Volkswagen's top managers learnt the lesson firsthand. They recently announced the firm's ambition to become the world leader
On the face of it, the revelation that 500,000 VW cars in the United States were designed to cheat on diesel emissions testing doesn't seem like good news for air quality. And, sadly, it seems VW was not the only culprit -- a new study by Transport and Environment shows that nearly every European automaker has cheated on the diesel emission requirements.
GM and VW now rival each other for diesel, two-letter acronyms and the two biggest auto industry scandals in years.
Tainted Fahrvergnügen: What the Volkswagen Scandal Tells Us About Achieving Climate and Clean Air Goals
Public brouhaha aside, from a climate change policy perspective, what is most troubling about this scandal is not what the company did, but the vulnerabilities it exposed in environmental policy.
Much has been said about the moral dimension of the VW diesel deception. The company betrayed its customers, the public, and the planet by building "defeat devices" into 11 million of its cars (devices designed to switch off emission controls whenever the car is in normal use).
This affair has not only caused Germany's greatest industry to falter -- it has also tarnished the image of our economy. Reliability, credibility -- once the core attributes of our automotive industry -- seem implausible in the backdrop of this scandal.