Norman Taylor & Associates
February 17, 2020
You’ve heard the saying “any press is good press,” but Volkswagen’s reputation has taken severe beatings from the media over the years, and rightfully so. Their goal to become the world’s largest automaker was ultimately their downfall. The company’s shortcuts and dishonest practices cost them much more than $30 billion in fines, penalties, and restitution— it cost them their trust with their customers.
In 2015, the auto industry was rocked when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen. The company had previously boasted about its cars’ low emissions, only for the EPA to expose them as frauds.
The company installed a “defeat device” into cars that made them compliant with federal emission levels during testing but switched to a separate mode during normal drives, with some vehicles emitting up to 40 times more nitrogen-oxide.
The software was inside 11 million cars worldwide and more than half a million in the United States under the Volkswagen brand, which included Audi and Porsche.
The response? Top executives released statements promising to do whatever it took to win back trust, Volkswagen set aside billions to rectify the emissions issues, and they planned to refit the 11 million affected vehicles.
But the story doesn’t end there. In 2019, the German government fined Porsche nearly $600 million for its part in the emissions-cheating diesel engines two years after they were initially investigated. Porsche also announced they ended the production of vehicles with diesel engines.
Again in 2019, new information from the New York Times came to light about the cheating scandal, but this time it involved Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi. The newspaper claims that Audi continued to use their illegal software even after Volkswagen was formally accused of emissions cheating up until 2017.
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