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Volkswagen and Audi's uphill climb to regain trust

As Volkswagen’s managers slowly own up to cheating on diesel emissions, the path back to owner trust appears steep. Truth in engineering is not helping.

Truth In Engineering. That Volkswagen's Audi luxury brand’s catch-phrase. Very ironic in light of the dirty diesel scandal now rocking the automaker. The Audi A3 diesel is one of the models that the EPA says had a purposely-design cheating device that would sense when it was big tested and trick the emissions control testing equipment into thinking the vehicle ran as promised.

VW’s top executive, Martin Winterkorn has confirmed the cheating took place. Although it seems as if VW came right out and owned up to what many are calling fraud, it is not the case. Going back to 2014 the EPA had been asking VW hard questions about the issue and was stonewalled. According to the EPA only after the agency decided not to approve any 2016 models did VW officials admit the purposeful deception. Researchers in the U.K. had evidence something was not right as far back as 2011. VW apparently did everything it could to hide the dirty diesel secret for years.

Some automotive journalists back today from Monday’s 2016 Passat launch in New York City where they were entertained by Lenny Kravitz have been posting text and images supporting VW’s U.S. chief executive. VW’s Michael Horn, said during the introduction “Our company was dishonest, with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you and in my German words, we have totally screwed up.” Although it seems like an apology, Horn left out the fact that by all appearances, VW also cheated in Europe and installed the same type of cheating device to trick emissions regulations. That revelation would come to light out just hours after this partial mea culpa to the press.

Audi’s website says of its diesel technology “With everything TDI® clean diesel has to offer, it's no wonder it's the intelligent choice. It starts with incredible performance, efficiency and a range second to none. It also turns out it could make the world a cleaner place—by cutting emissions by 12%.” If that is true, then why did Audi and Volkswagen cheat?


Mark Day (not verified)    September 23, 2015 - 1:46PM

Missing in the discussion is the individual paying ALL the bills – the customer. Premature regulations, in the past, for U.S. auto manufactures crippled the American auto industry and they've essentially never recovered. Most everyone seems to fall in line assuming that bureaucrats have the legitimate authority to determine what I'm permitted to drive. And whenever the manufactures comply with the latest regs the bar is raised to the next level. Results: ever more expensive vehicles and a poorer driving experience. Volkswagen/Audi is NOT the problem.