Volkswagen, a pioneer in fuel-efficient electric vehicles, finds itself enmeshed in one of the most blatant deceptions in modern-day auto history. Since 2009, Volkswagen has been installing a sophisticated piece of software in its diesel vehicles that lets them falsely pass emission tests. The software activates emission controls only during emission tests, but when on the road, the cars release up to 40 times the permitted amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
NOx helps generate nitrogen dioxide, the low-hanging ozone that blankets cities, and minute particulate matter, which is known to cause breathing trouble. According to the company’s admission, around 11 million cars were rigged globally. The scandal had led to the exit of its CEO Martin Winterkorn, who has apologised profusely. The company’s share price has nosedived and it could be facing huge fines in various countries. This kind of cheating seems remarkably stupid for a company with a brand image to protect. The benefits that accrued to it from this fraud would be a slight bump in profits, but the well deserved stigma will last for generations. Large corporations spend enormous amounts to polish their images, but it is pointless if the substance underneath is flaky, based on falsehood.