By on October 31, 2015

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI white

On her weekly podcast, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said Volkswagen’s scandal hasn’t harmed the German automobile industry’s image, but that the automaker would need to conduct its investigation with transparency to restore faith in the country’s industry.

“A lot will depend on how Volkswagen deals with the issue,” Merkel said, according to Reuters.

Separately, sources told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (via Reuters) that the automaker, under pressure from investigators, is offering amnesty to employees who reveal what they knew about its cheating devices. Amnesty won’t apply to top-level managers, according to the report.

Rank-and-file workers would be able to keep their jobs and escape damage claims if they tell investigators what they know about the cheating device that has cost the automaker billions so far.

Volkswagen hired U.S. law firm Jones Day to conduct its internal investigation. So far, several executives have been suspended, according to reports including Volkswagen’s quality control chief Frank Tuch was suspended for “incriminating letters.”

Between 10 and 30 engineers may have been responsible for the illegal software designed to cheat emissions controls.

Volkswagen hasn’t said when its investigation would be complete.

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43 Comments on “Merkel: ‘VW is Working On This With All of Its Power’ – Including Asking Workers to Roll Over...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Correction (again) – the original reports said “persons” or “managers”, not engineers. It’s probable some engineers are involved, but the exact positions they hold are still TBD.

    Some precision in reporting this would be appreciated. If you blamed the line workers, there would be an outcry. Maybe it was the janitor, or the caterer, but we’ll find out eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Regrettably, ttac has become The Truth About VW, like they’re catering to some minority of car enthusiasts; a board for a niche.

      Farago is howling!

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        And Bertel has schadenfreude.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        “Regrettably, ttac has become The Truth About VW, like they’re catering to some minority of car enthusiasts; a board for a niche.”

        There are lots of articles about this because it is newsworthy information in the car industry. There were multiple articles a week at the height of the developments about the GM Ignition Switch fiasco; this is no different. Nor is the total number of articles really that different from other media outlets.

        • 0 avatar
          jansob

          I’m happy to see it…it’s a really big deal on many fronts…automotive diesel, economic impacts, legal…and TTAC is one of the best sources for a roundup of the story.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        >>Regrettably, ttac has become The Truth About VW, like they’re catering to some minority of car enthusiasts; a board for a niche.

        The handling of this is no different than TTAC’s coverage of Toyota and GM recalls. Which was consistently abundant even given how much TTAC has changed over that time under different management.

        From an industry perspective this VW recall potential is more impactful than previous recalls, as the viability of diesel engines now is now at stake globally. Given diesels popularity in Europe, and the scaling back of crucial subsidies in key European markets, its an entire industry that is going to be impacted; from manufacturer to suppliers. This definitely deserves coverage.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Your view is closest to mine. What still puzzles me is just how damaging this would have to be outside the US.

          The moral umbrage over their cheating is wispy and will quickly dissipate except for direct US victims who take a bath on their personal vehicles. Business is business and sometimes you get caught.

          But I still wonder if the non-US world won’t feel a little sneaking solidarity with VW for daring to defy and game the evil Americans.

          • 0 avatar
            samuelmorse

            I guess damage outside US is going to be very limited. Mainly because in Europe there is no specific legislation prohibiting to manipulate or cheating engine electronics to minimize fuel consumption / emissions levels during homologation tests. In fact all carmakers are altering in one way or another the engine electronics to improve these parameters thus offering much better consumption and emission levels on the catalogue than under real driving conditions. VW will no be facing any criminal charges outside Europe and in fact many drivers with low environment consciousness will probably elect not to have their affected cars fixed if that has a negative impact on their performance.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Yes! The VW story is important because of its implications for diesel engines in passenger cars. I wouldn’t be surprised if few new diesel cars get sold in areas with tough limits on oxides of nitrogen. Too expensive. It took more than a generation for American consumers to warm up to the idea of buying a diesel car after the GM diesel debacle and Volkswagen doesn’t have any reservoir of trust to sustain sales while they try to fix this problem. At current low gasoline prices, who wants to pay thousands extra for diesel fuel economy?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            George B, I just can’t agree with that. VW just isn’t a player in the US, diesel or otherwise.

            Canada? Maybe. The rest of the world? For sure!

            Then again, the rest of the world doesn’t adhere to America’s diesel-emission standards.

            VW could quit selling their junk in the US and no one would notice except for a few dyed-in-the-wool fans.

            If Toyota quit selling in the US, now that would be painful news. Even the trumped-up SUA charges levied on Toyota were premature ejaculation for the Toyota haters.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            HDC,

            TTAC isn’t a US-only site, not by a long shot.

            I’m mystified at how you think a scandal zipping up and down the leadership ranks, and threatening the existence of, the company neck-and-neck for the largest car company in the world is not significant car news, even in the US.

            (And apart from the significance to VW, it’s quite significant on diesels overall in the US, which were slowly trickling back here, after having their reputation nearly destroyed a couple decades back by some horrible efforts by Detroit.)

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        A car company arrogantly acts in a fraudulent manner to present themselves in a most favourably light to consumers and governments. They get caught and now the story is about who did it, who knows and what will the fall out be for the company. I think any editor would be fascinated by the myriad of possibilities, and twists and turns. I know I am.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Why do we say “devices”? It’s just computer programming, isn’t it? Or is there a ROM chip hard wired in there that’s the culprit?

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      I think “device” is used in the phrasing of the EPA regulation, so it’s being used as a catch-all term for any hardware or software device that enables cheating.

      The word more commonly refers to something mechanical in nature, but it can refer to anything made with a specific purpose.

  • avatar
    TW5

    A scandal this massive is attributable to human nature more than it is attributable to rogue VW agents. I’m sure many regulators and professionals knew what was going on. Bosch and other suppliers have already admitted they knew what was going on.

    The witch hunt is a nice PR gesture, but they should probably just move on. Pay the fines. Compensate customers. Create a company council to investigate regulatory compliance. Try not to go bankrupt.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      “Try not to go bankrupt.”

      I suspect that regulators are going to moderate their responses to keep this from happening. Publicly executing a major corporation never looks good.

      This does put VW in a precarious position though. A lot of their available cash is going to get soaked up by this mess, meaning their R&D and manufacturing is going to suffer. If other automakers can exploit this over the next few years VW could take some big hits in the market. Probably 5 years or more until the effect of that becomes apparent though.

      • 0 avatar
        WhiskeyRiver

        You don’t understand government at all.

        We’re talking about a lot of world governments here when it comes to penalties, fines and consumer compensation. My guess would be that the entirety of these governments will take every last drop of VW’s blood and most of their soul. Governments grow to consume everything. It’s just what they do. Even Merkel will go after Germany’s share rather than watch the last dime vanish to other countries.

        When it’s all been researched and analyzed, what other tests have they cheated on? There’s bound to be others. Do any of them involve safety?

        Goodbye VW. It may take a few years but they’ll get taken down. Bankruptcy will be the least of their problems.

        • 0 avatar
          VCplayer

          I guess we’re going to disagree, but I can’t see that happening when VW is such a large part of the economy in many of these countries. Even in the US there are politicians (pretty much the entirety of Tennessee’s congressional delegation and a fairly influential governor) who will go to bat to protect the company from outright ruin.

          VW going bankrupt would cause it to receive bailouts from those very same governments. The political cost of tearing down VW is just way too high. Even European countries without strong ties to VW manufacturing are going to discouraged from overly punitive actions by the EU. There’s just too much on the line economically and politically.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          It’s going to be tricky for Germany to beat up on a company of which 20% is owned by a German state. Does Merkel give 1 Euro out of every 5 back to Lower Saxony?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @VCPlayer

        This isn’t merely a matter of regulators and their fines, or even governments and their fines. VW has wronged 11 million car owners whose lawyers demand compensation for their loss in value.

        Even in regulators decided to minimize the fines, VW still has to fix/destroy/buy back a lot of cars. Then they have to compensate owners who are getting killed on trade, and dealers everywhere who can’t move these cars.

        The numbers are staggering. Even if VW isn’t bankrupted immediately, they will be so crippled by this they won’t be able to develop new product, hire new people, retain current customers, or win new ones. I think they’re gone – or nearly – in a few years.

        Just like the Titanic which floated for a couple hours, there is mayhem below deck. This ship is going down.

        • 0 avatar
          trackratmk1

          “VW is going down”. Not a chance. You guys realize that the VW brand is one of 12 in a conglomerate company, right? That includes Audi, Lambo, Porsche, Ducati, etc. And that they already took their 7 BILLION dollar loss in Q3 this year to stabilize everything? The parent company is fine, and even if they had to pillage some funds away from their other brands to serve as a bandage (which will never happen, VW alone makes some 25+ billion in revenue per quarter), they could easily do that.

          Also I agree that the political consequences are far too high to lose a company 20% owned by Lower Saxony, and is the largest contributor to the German economy. The state Governor sits on VWAG’s supervisory board. It would be a humiliation for the country as well, so public officials will do everything they can to keep this issue squarely positioned in the private hands of the greedy industrialists.

          • 0 avatar
            WhiskeyRiver

            According to their website VW does business in 31 countries.

            Just because they’re trying to fix things at home doesn’t mean they have the slightest chance of fixing things in the other 30 countries they do business in.

            I’m sure they’re shitting their collective pants and a lawyer or government regulator somewhere is standing in line to put a lien on the turd. Or subpoena it.

            Costly? You will be shocked. Count on it.

          • 0 avatar
            WhiskeyRiver

            I’ve thought about this all day. This notion that VW is so huge, that they own SO many other auto marques, that they’re such a HUGE money machine that they can’t be broken…

            This is just modern liberal thinking at it’s worst. Every healthy company has cash flow. Cash on hand. Assets.

            Are these things beyond any possibility of imagining a finite limit? Are their pockets so deep there’s no harm in taking the contents or one or two?

            Is there REALLY such a thing as too big to fail?

            Only in modern day America. Everywhere else companies fail all the time.

            As will this one. Suicide. Death by their own hand.

            They are not GM and Germany is not even remotely thinking socialist like our government does.

            You folks that think they can’t fail… too big to fail… You didn’t suffer under socialist communist Hitler did ya?

            Don’t even think for a moment that because Germany owns part of this company that VW is about to get a pass.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            7 Billion is just a drop in the bucket for the direct costs of this scandal, heck that won’t even cover the problems in the US where less than 5% of the affected vehicles are.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        As far as the EPA is concerned publicly executing VW would be a great thing. It would serve as a big notice to the other companies doing business in the US that they shouldn’t mess with the EPA.

  • avatar
    50merc

    “Asking workers to roll over” is an odd phrase in this context. Usually it means asking one to show loyalty by concealing, not divulging, things. From the Washington Post:

    “On Loyalty

    Hubbell’s concern for Hillary Clinton was evident in several conversations on the tapes from the spring of 1996. At the time, Hubbell was feuding with former Rose partners over repaying money he had embezzled in an overbilling scheme. Rose had threatened to sue him, and Hubbell was considering filing a countersuit that he said could embarrass his former partners.

    But Scott had conveyed a message to Hubbell through his wife: He is “‘not going to get any public support if you open up Hillary to all this.\'” Said Suzy Hubbell, “Well, by public support I know exactly what she means. I’m not stupid.”

    Hubbell responded: “I told you I will not do that. I will not raise those allegations that might open it up to Hillary.”

    Scott also warned, according to Suzy Hubbell, that his wife – a political appointee at the Interior Department – would lose support at the White House if he sued Rose. “I’m hearing the squeeze play,” said Suzy Hubbell.

    Hubbell said: “So I need to roll over one more time.”

    Then, his wife asked if exploring overbillings would create problems for Hillary Clinton.

    He didn’t answer, saying, “We’re on a recorded phone, Suzy.”

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Whilst I do agree the significance of the ‘VW Sage” is important, I do believe the importance has become overplayed on TTAC.

    Maybe a roundup of ‘VW Events’ a couple times a week should keep the avid VW detractors and other interested parties happy.

    I do believe there are other issues in the automotive world than VW. Can TTAC staff please go out and motor vehicle journalism and more vehicle reviews.

    Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Sorry, it’s poorly written. But this is what occurs when you have issue running TTAC on your computer.

      • 0 avatar
        WhiskeyRiver

        If TTAC ignored all VW news, they’d get hammered for that too. TTAC doesn’t make the news they just report it. If VW ends up being in the news every day then what are they to do?

        What you’re sick of is VW. Put the blame where it goes.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Whiskey River,
          I actually stated that TTAC should look at the frequency of how they deliver these VW stories, not omit them completely.

          My anecdotal view is TTAC has reduced it’s readership of late. I would say the way in which TTAC is managing it’s articles, ie, the frequency of VW stories, is letting the site down.

          There are other significant global and yes, NA automotive news TTAC an put in.

          I’m wondering if cutbacks are a part of the changing TTAC?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Don’t kid yourself. It’s a huge developing story, and not just in the automotive world.

            I love it though! The whole saga. But I can see how the devout VW and diesel *faithful* may get offended.

            Oh, well. And they were just so damn cocky about the “real world” 50+ mpg and value proposition of “Clean Diesel” TDIs.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    VW does have one issue of greater significance than it’s diesel emissions saga.

    That is, the Chinese market, which isn’t impacted by the EU and US diesel emissions.

    VW has some problems increasing it’s footprint in the Chinese market. For VW to maintain it’s lead (2nd place now behind Toyota) it must sell and market better to the Chinese.

    I agree with Merkel, the VW emissions issue isn’t as big a problem as the media hype is portraying.

    At work the guys that own VW products from GTI’s to Amaroks don’t really care too much about the emissions issue.

    Sales will be affected, but not as much as the media is disussing. Look at Toyota with it’s unintended acceleration. That was a large media event. Toyota is now the largest vehicle producer globally.

  • avatar

    German engineering? Yeah, I have a great trust in German engineering esp when it is coupled with American lawyerism. VW diesel would be a good choice for the gas camera.

  • avatar

    Will top management that should be held accountable ‘roll over’? What happens to the 65 million exit arrangement or so that Winterkorn can look forward to? Why haven’t we heard yet from shareholders who took a huge hit?

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    I believe most TTAC visitors don’t have an issue
    With the frequency of vw articles — the breadth
    Of the story justifies it !

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I guess it would just be too simple to fine them a bit, donate the next 5 years of their independently audited profits to various worldwide charities, fire a bunch of the true crooks, and call it a day?

    I know the lawyers wouldn’t get their money, and politicians wouldn’t get their face time, but it’s not like these cars are killing anybody (ridiculous risk assessment mathematics aside), and I, for one, would hate to see what the disappearance of VW would mean to workers and economies around the world.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    i know a couple owners that are only upset because they think the “fix” is going to harm their mileage and performance but are otherwise happy

  • avatar
    bjchase55

    My big concern in all this….will they be bringing in more Golf R in 2016?! =)

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