With ABC’s hit drama “Scandal” returning this week, it would be appropriate to discuss the latest automaker’s scandal. And if you know anything about scandals, it is not the deception or act; it is the cover-up that gets people in trouble. Because of this, it is probably best to admit when you have done something wrong before it morphs into a full fledged scandal.
For executives at Volkswagen Motors, making a public mea culpa (which is embarrassing enough) may be the least of their worries. According to several media reports, the company had for years used technologies to fool emissions standards testing systems using an algorithm that could detect when a car was being tested. Essentially, when the cars would be tested, they would change their performance to meet emissions standards. However, when on the road, the cars would emit nearly 40 times the limit of nitrogen oxides.
The long standing deception will eventually cost the company millions in fines. However, the costs to customers for recalling defective cars could be substantial. It is estimated that more than 480,000 Volkswagens will have to be brought in to be serviced, if they can be at all. It also remains to be seen whether complaints about asthma and other respiratory problems due to increased levels of omissions will lead to products liability complaints.
If they do, Volkswagen may have additional issues given that they intentionally concealed the dangers that increased emissions could cause. Nevertheless, automakers have a duty to ensure that their cars work as they are advertised.