Volkswagen out of Breath

I have been a big fan of Audi for a about 7 years now. Around that time my grandfather bought an Audi A8L, Audi vehicles have multiplied throughout my family. I was lucky enough to own one for a few years and since then they have become one of my favorite companies. Now obviously Audi’s parent company Volkswagen has been under a lot of scrutiny recently. Volkswagen found ways to go over the emissions standards without being caught. However, recently an inside worker exposed Volkswagen and since then they have been dealing with problems form the press, problems in the stock market, and problems with the law. I have listened to few pod cast and read several articles on how the scandal actually and happened the scandal and it is very interesting.

For those who do not know what happened, Volkswagen cheated emissions testing for years by using special software on one of its lines of diesel engines. The EPA’s findings cover 482,000 cars in the US only, including the VW-manufactured Audi A3, and the VW models Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat. So obviously they took it open themselves to get around the emission laws knowing that it was wrong. Since 2011, they have been under investigation for cheating these tests, however, it could never be validated and the company would lie to the European Emissions companies and government. In late 2015 and early 2016 the US conducted tests that found the device that allowed Volkswagen to dodged the emissions laws.

Since then Volkswagen has done everything in their power to save face. In a lot of ways it sounds similar to the way that Mike Dasiey conducted himself. On an NRP interview with Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Mueller, Mueller explains that “the whole thing is a misunderstanding.” When Mueller was asked, “ You said this was a technical problem, but the American people feel this is not a technical problem, this is an ethical problem that’s deep inside the company. How do you change that perception in the U.S.?” he responded, “Frankly spoken, it was a technical problem. We made a default, we had a … not the right interpretation of the American law. And we had some targets for our technical engineers, and they solved this problem and reached targets with some software solutions which haven’t been compatible to the American law. That is the thing. And the other question you mentioned — it was an ethical problem? I cannot understand why you say that.” Mueller claimed that they never lied and that this is not an ethical problem. I am excited to see how people in this blog respond to this and I would like to hear everyones opinions on the case.


4 thoughts on “Volkswagen out of Breath

  1. I agree when you say that it is an ethical problem. Also, I see many resemblances in the way that Volkswagen has approached these accusations to the Nike case we read. I think that executives would argue that this was a measure taken to maximize profits in the short run which “is in the interest of shareholders and stakeholders”. However, we could easily argue that since they’re not taking the long term impact into account -the environmental problems resulting from emissions and the current image of the company- the company is acting in both an unethical and counter profitable way.


  2. Good synopsis of the whole situation, I think what one has to ask one’s self in this particular instance (from a virtues ethics point of view) is what was the end game of Volkswagen in implementing this strategy? Did competing markets push them to improvise at a level where they weren’t ready to go (with BMW now encroaching on their market segment) or was it straight up greed that determined their actions? Either way, they ended up paying the costs and lost a lot of customer loyalty. This hearkens back to the days of Ford knowing allowing a specific model of their vehicles stay on the market when they knew that it was extremely prone to exploding when involved in an accident. However, look at Ford’s image now… can VW came back as strong again as well or are we in a more accountable, responsible age?


  3. @jacobisraelhannah thats a great way to think about it. I wonder what their original intentions actually were as well. It is interesting how the competitive aspects of capitalism force companies to do unethical things. If you look at how well all of Volkswagens subsidiaries are doing, you wonder from a business perspective if this is the right move to cheat the laws. I would assume that Volkswagen will get around this and revamp their brand loyalty. So in the long run, it may eventually pay off. Somewhat like BP’s situation.


  4. This is an ethical problem. What Volkswagen did was as bad as it gets. I’ve heard in the news more and more that many people knew exactly what was going on and still it happen. Its a shame that this happened at all but there should be some pretty severe punishments in my opinion. Simply put, they cheated, and when a cheater gets caught they should be shamed.


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