Some more on VW:
1. The headlined, poorly-thought-out quote above may be correct as to human drivers but maybe not as to human air-breathers. Nitrogen oxides cause asthmatic attacks; 3,600 people in the US die annually from those attacks, and far more are hospitalized and otherwise suffer. The 500,000 VW diesel vehicles continue to emit as much NOx as 5 million to 20 million compliant vehicles. And then there's the other 10.5 million other diesels that VW admits are problematic - we don't know yet the scope of the emission problems from them. At this scale of emissions over the last 6 years and continuing, it seems certain that people were injured and quite possible that people were killed by VW's fraud.
In an interesting bit of timing, a food company executive was just sentenced to 28 years in prison for fraudulently releasing salmonella-contaminated peanut butter that ended up killing a number of people. Other top officials also received significant jail time. I'd been thinking about VW in terms of limited criminal penalties under the Clean Air Act, but Mr. Peanut here got hit under good ol' fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges.
There's a difference in that it's easy to identify who was harmed by salmonella (some of them, anyway). That people were harmed by VW is certain though, as is the case for Exxon if fraud is eventually proven against it.
2. I can't get over what, if anything, was going on in the collective VW mind after it was contacted in May 2014 by the regulatory agencies asking for an explanation, and why it kept selling fraudulent diesels. Especially, I have trouble imagining their in-house attorneys saying "so I understand we've been intentionally violating a law that carries criminal penalties and you'd like to continue violating it indefinitely, even though the State of California, the EPA, a technologically-sophisticated nonprofit and a university research center all likely suspect what we've done and are one step away from proving it themselves, while we've been lying to them by omission? Sure, go right ahead!" I'd guess their attorneys were only brought in late or had information concealed from them. That doesn't get the rest of the involved staff and the chain of command off the hook, of course.
We haven't heard much about the failed software fix that VW attempted while concealing the real problem. My wild guess is that they tried to defeat the defeat-device software, to conceal what they'd done without anyone the wiser, but it didn't work.
Regardless, I expect these last 18 months to be especially problematic for VW and involve even more people with liability than whoever was originally involved.
3. What I truly don't understand is why no one else suspected this earlier. The European VW diesels performed as well as the American VW diesels, urea injection was not used, but the American diesels had lower emissions. Couldn't a competitor, at least, put it all together? This makes me wonder if there's an 'ethic' against ratting each other out, and wonder what else is out there, at VW or at someone else.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Some more on VW: