It isn't just the crime. It's also the cover-up. Volkswagen's multi-year conspiracy to evade pollution rules may be the biggest scandal in auto industry history.
The world's second largest car manufacturer misled regulators, consumers, and motorists.
Our guest is New York Times Germany correspondent, Jack Ewing, author of "Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal." The book tells the remarkable story of a very dysfunctional company and how the scandal unfolded.
In 2008, Volkswagen started telling the world about its energy-efficient diesel cars that were fun to drive and got fantastic mileage. They were advertised as a great alternative to the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars.
But the cars' green credentials were based on a lie. VW had installed software in the engines—"defeat devices"—designed to trick regulators and perform much better in emissions tests than on the road. Starting in 2014, thanks to research by university students in West Virginia, the ugly truth started coming out.
As always, we look at solutions. The likelihood of future scandals could be reduced with:
- More corporate transparency and oversight from an independent board of directors and shareholders.
- Greater emphasis on corporate ethics from top executives.
- More emphasis on emissions tests in real life conditions—not just in the lab
- Keep government regulators as insulated as possible from industry, interest group and political pressure.