Volkswagen’s attempts to move past the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted last year have been repeatedly thwarted by U.S. federal regulators and prosecutors as well as its own CEO’s public blundering.
Now an elaborate one-man protest at the Geneva Motor Show has once again diverted attention back to the scandal that VW Group so desperately wants to put in its rearview mirror.
A protester, who was identified by The Telegraph as comedian Simon Brodkin, crashed VW’s press conference at the Geneva Motor Show to remind everyone that the automaker installed illegal software in its turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to meet U.S. standards during regulatory testing.
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Brodkin, dressed in VW-branded coveralls, interrupted VW passenger car board member Juergen Stackmann as he presented the company’s electric Up! city car. Brodkin walked onto stage holding a box emblazoned with the words “cheat box” on it. “Excuse me, I have the new cheat box,” he says. Turning to the audience, Brodkin theatrically walks over to VW’s Up! vehicle on stage and says “No one’s going to find out about this one.”
“It doesn’t need a repair, it’s a perfect car,” Stackmann says in response. As the security guards roll onto the stage (rather casually) the comedian refers to the VW CEO and says, “Mr. Müller says it’s okay as long as no one finds out.” As he’s being escorted off stage, he once more turns to the crowd and says, “Just keep it quiet this time and it will be okay.” He then turns to Stackmann, and says, “Did you not get the memo?”
Here’s the video, which was posted by the Wall Street Journal.
In September 2015, Volkswagen
became the target of investigations after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused the company of installing so-called defeat devices, which allowed the vehicle’s nitrogen oxide output to meet U.S. standards temporarily, and then produced up to 40 times higher NOx in real driving conditions.
VW is facing billions of dollars in penalties in the United States. VW has until March 24 to think of an acceptable fix for more than 100,000 of the 582,000 cars affected by the emissions cheating scandal.