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  • Konrad Werner: The government keeps letting VW poison everyone


Konrad Werner: The government keeps letting VW poison everyone

There's new news in the VW scandal: 1) An insider said the test cheating was an open secret. 2) US VW owners will get compensation, but EU owners won't. And the German government has still not said anything.

Image for Konrad Werner: The government keeps letting VW poison everyone
“Lateral view VW Golf TDI clean diesel at the 2010 Washington Auto Show” by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I know. Business stuff. I realize you might have given up on this post already, but if you can hear me out, there’s been some new news on the Volkswagen diesel emissions fiasco. An anonymous state witness has claimed that VW’s engine development team knew about the cheat software that allowed the cars to scale back their emissions of nitrogen oxide when they were in test mode. The scenario was this: the company’s engine developers were put under massive pressure by the VW chiefs to find a cheap way to get clean diesel engines onto the US market. Instead of admitting they couldn’t, they decided to pretend they could and developed the cheat software. The result was cars that produced 3.7 times as much nitrogen oxide when they were on the road than when they were on the test rollers – way over the US and EU safe limits. Nitrogen oxide is a gas that destroys the ozone layer, creates acid rain and if you breathe it in damages your heart and lungs and can cause cancer.

And you have been breathing it in. VW said that 2.4 million of its cars are pumping out this poison in Germany alone. And that’s not all, because VW is not the only German car-maker with dodgy test results. The German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) has been working with universities to test diesel cars made by Mercedes, BMW, and Opel – and they all produced two to four times more nitric oxide when they were on the road than they did on the test rollers. None of these companies have provided any technical explanation for this.

Meanwhile, the German government is protecting VW and all the other German car manufacturers. The Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), which is in charge of testing all these cars, has not said a word – except to say that it is carrying out tests. The DUH says it has passed on all its test results to the KBA but has received no answer.

To cap this outrage, VW, the company that got caught slowly poisoning the German population so it can break into the US diesel car market, has announced that it will start compensating its US customers. So VW owners in America are getting $1,000 in vouchers each, basically because the authorities in America have more balls, but this deal will not extend its compensation scheme to Europe, defying the protests from Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Union industry commissioner.

To date, no German minister has brought up the possibility of any German customers getting any compensation AT ALL. Also, and by the way, Volkswagen has five lobbyists in the German Bundestag, all with house passes issued by the CDU.