Is Atlas-Clone Tiguan A Chance For Volkswagen To Maintain U.S. Control?
It seems strange that Volkswagen would compete with its U.S. subsidiary in its home market, but it isn't, honestly. VW has a history of inept marketing. Let's look at the Dieselgate scandal for a bit of enlightenment on our point.
About 14 years ago, a brand-new VW chief exec by the name of Martin Winterkorn held a series of strategy meetings in Wolfsburg where he and his advisers determined that VW would become the dominant player in the U.S. market by using diesel power. Winterkorn and company decided that they wanted to sell on the order of 1 million diesel cars per year here, significantly increasing the automaker’s yearly average sales across its lines.
Engines Wouldn’t Pass Emissions Tests
One of the problems they ran into almost immediately was the fact that the engine they were going to use to power the new diesel entries was too dirty. To clean them up would mean VW was going to have to strangle performance. And, they would also lose any mileage advantage, as well. What to do; what to do? The answer to some engineers was easy, use an “invisible” switch that would allow engines to “pass” emissions tests when they were detected and then reset the powerplant after the test completed.
You know, they almost got away it. VW told the world it had made "clean diesel" work and everyone agreed. That is, until some independent researchers found that there was something not-too-kosher about VW’s “clean diesel” vehicles. They just weren't clean, at all. In some cases, they were 40 times too dirty. But, the VW misinformation machine cranked up so the automaker could continue to show its diesels were clean, despite what some might be whispering about them.
It worked for a time, too, as no one believed that VW's diesels weren't clean. After all, emissions testing showed them to be clean, right, so they must be, most people thought. Little did anyone suspect VW had stacked the deck by using a hidden defeat device to make it appear as if its diesels were clean.
For six years, 2009-2015, the automaker had managed to keep its deep dark secret locked behind closed doors. The world continued to believe VW could make "clean diesel, but things were about to change as a group of researchers, looking at the Volkswagen "miracle" found something that was hardly miraculous at all, VW's was doing dirty diesels.
VW needed to keep the chimera of "clean diesel" alive and well because its marketing was based on the slogan. Still, it couldn't refute the findings of the researchers who were none to pleased that after sharing the data with the automaker, VW's response was a very lame, non-working patch and stony silence.