What do you do with 294,000 dirty, polluting diesel cars you have to remove from the streets? Volkswagen has had to figure that out as it has bought back dieselgate cars and held them as they await government-approved modification to fix the original technical cheats and high emissions.
VW Dieselgate Scandal Aftermath
It seems as if not a week goes by without some sort of new insight into Volkswagen’s shady dieselgate scandal. As we wait for more progress on diesel car bans and the arrival of the long promised and ever elusive VW Buzz, we have time to ponder what has actually happened with hundreds of thousands of cheating VW diesels.
VW and Audi have been forced to house their affected dirty diesel vehicles. Storing it also means money, time, and other resources. No wonder VW tries all it can to avoid paying and going bankrupt or teetering on the brink of it.
As part of its deal to repent for pollution cheating (with pollution levels of its cars found to be up to 35 times higher than allowed), the $25 billion settlement included a massive number of vehicle buybacks — some 500,000 of its affected dirty diesel cars. VW has fixed and resold 13,000 of those, destroyed another 28,000, and stored the rest of what’s been bought back to date (another 294,000 or so dirty diesel vehicles) at 37 facilities around the United States. For jaw-dropping images, head on over to the Reuters article on this.
According to Reuters VW’s corporate malfeasance has been estimated to have caused up to 20,000 deaths a year from respiratory disease and other health issues. And now it has to destroy or fix the cars that caused the problems. A largely avoidable Kafkaesque situation, VW is even forced to store or destroy new cars that never hit the road.
If you or I don’t pay taxes, we go to jail. If we cheat the government, we go to jail. But when it comes to international car manufacturers, the law is much more lenient and only resulted in a wrist slap of three years probation and a $4.3 billion fine for three felony counts. And as with any story of this caliber, the grudgingly scapegoated VW US compliance officer, Oliver Schmidt, was awarded a 7-year stint in jail while the rest of the upper echelon walks away unscathed and uncharged. And consider the fact that Schmidt told a judge he “was directed to follow [talking points] … approved by management level supervisors at VW, including a high-ranking in-house lawyer.”
The More Things Change, The Less They Do
If politics wasn’t a good enough reminder of this fact, the more things change, the more they stay the same. New faces rehash yesterday’s promises hoping to drum up some tired expectations to make a buck or two. Volkswagen put its brand PR machine into full swing to highlight its clean future, but it’s still too tied to its dirty present and past. Who’s to believe a company that sang about “clean diesel” (knowing it was a lie) for so many years?
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