Volkswagen’s Emissions Scandal Has a Villain, and It’s Not Any of the People … – Slate Magazine

Posted: Thursday, October 01, 2015

The first public face of the scandal wasn’t Piech, but Winterkorn. The company’s CEO resigned on Sept. 23, five days after the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of cheating on 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, a number that quickly ballooned to 11 million as Volkswagen fessed up. The EPA didn’t nail the exact culprit on its own; the independent International Council on Clean Transportation conducted independent on-road tests in 2013 that revealed the huge emissions discrepancies, and only then did the EPA act. At first VW stonewalled regulators, but the evidence was undeniable, even if unbelievable. The company had programmed its diesel engines specifically to detect situations in which they were being tested. This is an audacious, outrageous, and very intentional feat. Indeed, such coordinated large-scale fraud, across multiple divisions (VW, Audi, Skoda, and others), required significant participation from engineers and management both. In a written statement, Winterkorn said: “Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.” Yet Winterkorn doesn’t claim he was unaware of wrongdoing in the statement. That doesn’t seem like an accidental omission.  

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