Originally published on LinkedIn.
By Roger Atkins
That is the wholly appropriate term for what the VW Diesel story is to the EV proposition right now — or it might be…
What actually happens now depends on the right people being in the right place at the right time.
Just as the established automotive industry is a conjoined force of competitive enterprise — this is THE moment to be seized by nascent electric vehicle players and their partners. Not in order to interrogate or antagonise their big brother but to compliment and encourage their journey from ICE to NICE.
The twin imperatives of reduced CO2 and more Clean Urban Air are not mutually exclusive as it happens, but as the diesel dilemma that now faces both manufacturers and legislators suggests, there must be — and there is — a better way. No merit in raking over past ill-judged rationale from Messrs Kinnock/Prescott & Blair on how we got into much of this mess (read this).
We are where we are.
Billionaire entrepreneur and outspoken environmentalist Richard Branson said recently the Volkswagen emissions scandal should be a wake-up call to automakers to invest in clean vehicle innovations instead of backward-looking, fossil-fuel-derived technologies. I agree.
“It shows they should have actually invested their money in battery-driven cars, which is the future, rather than diesel-driven cars and cheating,” Virgin Group’s founder said in a CNBC’s “Squawk Box” interview.
“What’s happened to Volkswagen is actually positive news in that hopefully the car manufacturers will do the right thing and will invest in the future.”
Let the lawyers feast on the fall-out of the VW Group’s ill judged actions, but, do not let that unfolding story wholly colour your judgement on the entire auto industry. Without doubt, it is mostly made up of people with enterprise and integrity at their core. We should not “throw the baby out with the bath water.”
You can review what Paul Willis — UK VW Boss — had to say at the recent UKGOV Select Committee: Volkswagen Group emissions violations — Transport Committee Monday 12 October 2015.
Over a cup of coffee and an overdue catch-up I was keen to talk through some of this with Quentin Willson. We’d worked together some time ago when Richard Branson launched Virgin Cars, and he is of course a very well known automotive authority and consumer champion.
We both share the view that the unintended consequences of recent events now actually present the best opportunity for the EV proposition, and an unofficial yet powerful consortium of the most credible opinion formers need to raise the volume of the debate.
It is still the case of course that some challenging aspects of the switch from ICE to NICE remain. However, the old adage of “where there is a will, there is a way,” has never been more pertinent.
So as with all such things in this crazy, complicated, and confusing world — we can’t just let things happen by default.
We should shape them by design.
Watch this space!…
Incidentally, I borrowed the “Voltswagen” term from a 1997 Episode of Top Gear. If you want to watch that and compare and contrast then and now feel free!
Prescient of much to come — albeit on a much longer fuse than anticipated — Mr Willson signs off his report with the line…
“Make no mistake, the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.”
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