A TALE OF TWO COMPANIES
The stars line up for Subaru's recall approach; VW's doesn’t
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, May 15, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Doug Stokes Maybe they learned from them. Or maybe they were just a wee bit more concerned for its customers’ safety, its reputation as a producer of quality vehicles, and its dealers’ relationship with its customers. Either way, Subaru’s mass recall action (“do not drive, do not sell, we’ll come to your house to check your car, if we need to repair you’ll get a free loaner”) rings very true in the face of Volkswagen’s weak and patently improbable indication announced the day before that its diesel debacle was the work of a few nefarious and unnamed rogue engineers located deep in the bowels of Wolfsburg who came up with the plan to cheat the emissions readings on millions of diesel-powered vehicles (that, in fact, were in gross violation of air quality emissions standards—and still are). And now Volkswagen, AG has the unblinking temerity to think that the lawmakers, the people charged with enforcing those health and safety laws, and the public that they serve are all going to breathe a bit easier to find out that this “chain of errors” stops at the level of a few faceless engineers. What’s the German word for “bullshit”? Aw forget it. I’ll look it up myself. Once again my first word on the subject from many months ago rings in my ears: Betrayal. Many other words fit, but this transgression goes well beyond the just doorstep of Volkswagen AG. It darkens the efforts of other manufacturers who have strived to put honestly “clean” diesel-powered cars and light trucks on the road. Besides building, advertising, and selling bogus cars, Volkswagen poisoned the well for others in the business, as well as dimmed the reputation of hundreds upon hundreds of Volkswagen dealers. In the case of Subaru, the number of vehicles is small, estimated at 52,000 (22,000 of which have been sold in the U.S.), and the possibility of a steering failure is a very serious condition (there have been no crashes reported and that’s because Subaru has shown exceedingly good faith in how they quickly reported and reacted to the problem) but the difference in reaction and action is marked. The way that this “Tylenol crisis” was handled was smart, and swift: Subaru reported the problem and immediately asked for the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to tell owners of all possibly-affected vehicles to stop driving them immediately, is sending their dealers directly to the customers’ homes to assess the problem, and has only mentioned that the apparatus in question was made by a supplier without placing any blame on them since Subaru specifies, inspects and installs the parts, and sends the vehicle to the dealerships with their guarantee of the whole machine. That’s a textbook response, not nebulous finger-pointing. The contrast is telling, monumental. Volkswagen needs to go public. But not with the name, rank and serial numbers of the small cell of these unknown cheater henchmen/engineers who conspired to mask the excessive (illegal) emission levels in millions of their automobiles (along with certain models of Audi and Porsche) but with how and how soon they will begin “fix” these engines to comply with industry standards as well as what that “fix” will cost their owners (who bought Volkswagen “clean diesel”-powered cars in good faith) in terms of power and fuel efficiency... NOW. - DS Here’s a little “what if” just in case the above was not enough: What if, the EPA would have sent letters to all the Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche owners who owned these cars and said: “Your (car in question ... ID number, etc.) is a known gross polluter emitting up to 40-times the limit specified in existing environmental laws. You are hereby ordered not to drive this vehicle as of the date of this certified notice. You will be contacted within 36 hours by the dealer’s agents who will make arrangements to pick your car up at your home to take it in for mandatory repairs. Your dealer will make arrangements for a loan vehicle. Thank you. Got something to say? Post your Facebook comments here. REUTERS 13.05.16: Volkswagen said on Thursday only a small group of employees was responsible for cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests and there was no indication board members were involved in the biggest business crisis in the carmaker's history. Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said investigations into the affair were going well, but the scandal was the result of a "chain of errors" and it would still take months to say which individuals were to blame. Europe's biggest motor manufacturer said it had agreed steps to improve oversight of engine-software development to avoid any future emissions test manipulations. It also hoped to reach agreement with U.S. environmental authorities in the next few days or weeks so the company can start to recall affected cars there. Cooperation with those authorities was described as "excellent". VW admitted in September it had cheated U.S. emissions tests and installed software capable of deceiving regulators on up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, news that wiped billions of euros off its market value and forced out its long-time CEO.