Volkswagen caught in the integrity crime

Volkswagen will be facing consequences for cheating the ICCT test.

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Now this is a story all about how, Volkswagen’s  life got flipped  upside down. I would like to take a minute and just sit right here and tell you how Volkswagen got ensnared.

Climbing up the academic ladder can allow us to evaluate our definition of ethics. Integrity is valued in academia when “cheating” and “cheaters” are clearly distinguished.

The magnitude of the penalty varies but what is certain is that it’s just not a slap on the wrist. Cheating in university can possibly result in a failure in the course, probation or even expulsion. In the real world, there is a commonality. Sanctions exist but the magnitude is inflated. Termination of employment, criminal charges, lawsuits, you name it.

It all started in 2001 when the International Council for Clean Transportation was created. It was created on the assertion that emissions played a big role in global climate changes. Aided by long pocket investors/contributors, the organization developed teeth.

ICCT commenced emission testing and became the advocate for more austere regulatory policies in the American, Asian and European industries.

Concern grew over diesel fuelled vehicles; researchers believed the emissions were significantly higher than lab tests would reveal.

West Virginia University engineers were given $50,000 to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

After which, if the results were favourable, the call for stricter regulatory measures like those in America would be amplified.

BMW was first tested and as expected, the emissions were higher than in the laboratory.

Next was VW and when the results came out researchers were blown away as emissions were significantly higher than tests initially revealed, with some sources saying more than 35 times higher. This is when VW started quivering in their boots. Pundits theorized that at this point, VW went into damage control mode and almost came out of it unscathed if it were not for the Environmental Protection Agency. The results were published over a year ago but the storm was a baby until the EPA fed it last month, saying the largest European car manufacturer allegedly installed “defeat devices” in their diesel operated vehicles.

VW has since admitted these devices were installed in as many as 11 million cars, and had released hundreds of thousands tennes of extra nitrous oxide annually into our beloved atmosphere.

The EPA’s office of enforcement and compliance assurance has acknowledged publicly the illegality and threat of these devices in avoiding the clean air standard tests.

So far VW has been caught cheating. What do you think the penalties they are facing right now are?

In light of the scandal, CEO of VW, the highest paying job in Europe, has resigned — the company has lost a third of the value of its shares.

Manufacturers in Germany are potentially facing criminal charges, but it doesn’t stop there.

VW is recalling almost 500,000 vehicles, staring down the gun of an $18-billion bill in “investigations and complying with regulator’s demand” in addition to the numerous lawsuits that will come its way.

Whenever this storm settles, VW will undoubtedly be left with a severely tarnished reputation, a debt larger than a typical college structure, and the lesson, “cheating does not pay, so maintain your integrity.”

This is a valuable lesson we can all be mindful of.   

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