Volkswagen Emission Scandal May Lead To Industry-Wide Probe
German automaker Volkswagen has now admitted to installing software in its vehicles to cheat US pollution admission tests and has claimed that 11 million of its cars worldwide contain the software. The company announced it would set aside $7.3 billion to pay the costs of fixing the cars so they can actually pass an emissions test.
Volkswagen’s appeal to consumers relied heavily on the belief that buying the diesel powered car would reduce carbon emissions and therefore be better for the environment. Not surprisingly, the emission scandal has sent Volkswagen’s stock crashing downward over fears of heavy fines and a loss of customers.
The company may also face criminal charges for violating US pollution-control laws. Sources have reportedly told Bloomberg that the Department of Justice has already started an investigation.
The Volkswagen emission test rigging case offers DOJ yet another opportunity to follow its new policy of holding individual executives accountable for corporate crime. DOJ failed to do so with the GM ignition switch case, though it could be argued that case predated the policy change.
Volkswagen, on the other hand, is undeniably a case that would be brought after the policy change.
Volkswagen shareholders will pay a massive fine, a vice president somewhere will take early retirement, lawyers will make a fortune.
— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) September 22, 2015
Beyond the Volkswagen case are concerns that the wider auto industry is finding ways to evade emissions rules. According to The Wall Street Journal, regulators in both the US and European Union are considering a industry-wide probe to see if cheating on emissions tests is a widespread practice.
If the practice of cheating on emission tests goes further than Volkswagen then the auto industry is doing even less to combat climate change than previously thought. Is it time for the government to get into the drivers seat and simply start mandating a switch to electric cars?