Wednesday 23 September 2015

Volkswagen - another example of an improving world

It is very easy, as we all age, to imagine a happier times in the past when everything was better. All of us remember our younger days as our best, irrespective of the realities; because, for the most part, being young and energetic (and single!) was in and of itself exciting and fun.

In the last few years there have been many, many corporate and other types of scandals. The journalist hacking scandal, LIBOR, Westminster Expenses, BP, RBS, Jimmy Saville, Rotheram - the news is very bad. People may say that 'things have gone to the dogs' etc.

Now we have a car manufacturer actively cheating the system to poison us all more with their products. Morally, VW should be Kaput for this alone, but no doubt as a national champion a way will be found to save it (incidentally, Germany, what is going on, Merkel has gone mad and now this too....issues are piling up).

Perhaps counter-intuitively though all these things are signs of progress. Organisations and Governments that are doing wrong, individually and collectively are getting found out, even if the wrong-doing was many years ago.

We have not yet figured out the punishments, but the crimes are being identified. This makes them less likely to be committed in the future. For example, Westminster MP's are cleaner than they used to be, as are Banks; still not perfect, but better than they were.

The modern world, with instant communication, easier whistle blowing, less deference and fear of power is changing this. Looked at the wrong way, this feels like there is more corruption than ever in the world; but it may the opposite is happening, finally sunlight is exposing all sorts of behaviour that has gone on for many decades in the darkness with no exposure.


andrew said...

... and my fee for getting the EU Commission to agree with you is in the post.

Can you remind me when the EU last had its accounts signed off by auditors?

The trouble with augean stables is that we keep building more of them.

hovis said...

Humanity's traits including foibles weaknesses appear to relatively constant, so I am not convinced it is getting better, (or worse) necessarily, but the instantaeousness of the modern world allows cock ups, corruption, crashes and all to be transmitted and amplified and felt much wider than before.

Electro-Kevin said...

The German companies will ride this one out as they always do.

This is not half so bad a scandal that most of their big named manufacturers were churning out machinery for the Nazi war effort and remained intact whilst ours were closed down or sold off.

Steven_L said...

But is VW and buy at 110c?

If the Toyota recall thing is anything to go by it has to be. Then again, if the US sink their teeth BP style then watch that falling knife!

Suff said...

I'm working on a competitors version of the same system but without the added software. We simply have a pressure spring on the drivers seat which opens the exhaust :-). Joking obviously.
One thing that was interesting was it was originally reported that they had written a " complex algorithm " which knew when the car was in test mode (that should get the regulators off the hook?) They didn't , they simply had a fail safe test mode unless the ecu detected the steering was activated.
The question for us is will our sales increase due to the stupidity of a competitor or will we see our sales in diesels reduce as we all get tarred with the same brush. One things for sure, we are all going to get battered with relentless legislation hoops we will have to jump through.

DJK said...

BP is probably the best guide to the Americans' attitude. But the BP disaster was an accident, VW have been caught cheating; cynically breaking the rules and undercutting honest, American businesses. And pumping poison into the lungs of millions of innocent Americans. (Anybody dying of lung cancer care to join a class-action lawsuit?) Frankly, VW deserve everything the feds choose to throw at them.

It's fortunate that the Germans have a word to describe this --- schadenfreude.

Suff said...

Djk correct. Should pay for their health care reforms.
" broken leg, no health insurance". You sound a bit wheezy, take this VW form"
Mind you the Germans have form on this " zis vay too zee showers"

andrew said...

A bit unfair, but there is a repeating pattern of a lot of people concluding that they were not doing anything particularly wrong.

I would like to think that we would be better in the UK but the Hillsborough cover-up and the Ellison report on Lawrence does not fill me with hope.

On whether one should be long or short VAG, I would suggest long daimler-Benz and short VAG.

DtP said...

It does seem pretty damned cynical. I still can't really get my head round it yet - it's genuinely flabbered my ghast. I think the banking crisis and Westminster crisis were at heart things you intuitively knew whereas this one seems to be just a fully wrapped open and close case of wow!

Bill Quango MP said...

It is a staggering mistake. When we discuss conspiracy theories on here from time to time, one of the measures is "If this really was a bad would it be if it came out?"

For instance, IF Dr Kelly WAS murdered by MI5, on orders from Tony Blair, what would the consequences be ..the fall of the government..the closure of the secret service..the end of the labour party, possibly forever..etc.

But VW have actually gone ahead and done it. They knew what the fallout from being uncovered would be. But they 'guessed?' the extra sales of diesels would outweigh any negatives.

Taking a risk with your brand insane. It can be recovered..but it can be fatal. A very .. very stupid thing to do

andrew said...

Can we play word bingo with new non-VAG car adverts
- any synonym of 'honest'

Electro-Kevin said...

VW is such a good product it won't be fatal.

Half of the VW loving petrol-head Clarksonees will be thinking "Yeah.Fuck the emissions !" anyway.

If Deutsche companies can trade with their heads held high, free from their association with Nazism a mere 70 years ago, whilst British ones are pursued relentlessly over slavery 200 years ago, then they are bullet proof and will have recovered from this in weeks if not days.

Emo said...

How will they recover the $100bn lawsuits the U.S. Is going to give them?
And then the EU ones that follow?

Anonymous said...

Nothing to see here - move on.

Car industry has been here before. And for those who do not remember look up the Ford Pinto and the fuel tank design. The cost of redesign was calculated to be higher than paying out for a few hapless drivers who might have been burnt to death following a rear end crash.

Are Ford still in business? Did they pay the fine on moved on?

Relative to the Pinto case, this is minor.

Electro-Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Electro-Kevin said...

Emo - I don't know what the final settlements of those law suits will be but I'm sure it won't be as high as to be fatal.

The EU lawsuits ? What ? The EU run by Germany ??? The Germany that has just taken an 800,000 share of refugees to run its powerhouse industries ?

Assuming that VW management wasn't completely insane they will have done their own unofficial risk/benefit analyses and will have offset some of the extra profits they made from this policy and put them aside for this eventuality.

My comment was in relation to repute anyway. VW (and Germany) has weathered far worse than that already. It is bad, I agree - but this whole situation has been brought about by climate change zealots and stupid taxation in favour of diesel (in Britain at least.)

I deliberately chose a petrol engine. I still fail to see how a modern diesel engine - with all the additional components and complexity needed to make it perform - can be environmentaly friendly when whole manufacturing and repair is taken into consideration

Electro-Kevin said...

PS, I bought a VW group car recently and it turns out my instincts on diesels were right.

Raedwald said...

Good points and agree wholly; transparency, whistleblowing, scepticism, challenge and enquiry are at a new zenith. But of concern is our almost total reliance on the e-networks remaining free, substantially uncensored and universally available to make it all work.

The bad guys are increasingly threatened - how desperate can they get? Or have we won already?

Suff said...

Andrew- too soon? It used to be the British way to reflect on any situation with humor no matter how offensive (or unfunny). I thought with them being white Anglo Saxon, they wouldn't fall under the protection of the bed wetters and easily offended. :-)
They done wrong and there is no defendable position but emo is correct. We've blogged about it before with Russian companies. Cash strapped governments everywhere will use this as an excuse to fine, asset grab and plunder until there is nothing left for private lawsuits

Steven_L said...

There's two sides to the 'fine, asset grab and plunder' coin. This might extract a few extra feathers this year, but it'll also lead to a lot of hissing.

Governments try to be good places to do business in order to attract investment don't they?

I reckon VW is a good medium term (3 years or so) buy.

Nick Drew said...

Radders - an interesting, nay vital question to be reviewed on a permanent basis

a quick observation: the Chinese aren't being 100% successful, even with (a) a massive political imperative, and will, to control (access to) the www and (b) concomitant resources being deployed

Suff said...

Those law suits will be driven by the climate change zealots and desperate politicians. FYI the average book price per vehicle would be about 25- 30k the American clean air act fine is 38k per vehicle and that's before the private suits ( which by the way isn't just open to those that bought the cars). Somebody seriously got their sums wrong.
Diesel versus petrol. Without going into a lot of detail, for high mileage travelers you are a lot better off with a diesel.
BTW Thanks for confirming what I asked in my original comment. It is now assumed that all diesel producers are fiddling the tests. Which WE don't.

Electro-Kevin said...

Suff - I'm in the second hand market. A turbo replacement can be expensive and the petrol version of my car was a couple of grand cheaper than its diesel version.

Relying on the fact that the previous owner had treated the turbo with respect and calculating how many miles I'd have to do to recover the £2000 difference... (I do about 7k a year)

I see your point about the sums on the Clean Air Act.

Would a Far East, emissions compliant, vehicle produced using energy from dirty power stations be better than a VW driving around non emissions compliant ?

Ironic that it's the EU pushing on targets for emissions.

Electro-Kevin said...

VW has weathered worse than this, including WW2. The Germans win even when they're losing. Somehow I think that the EU will be paying for these fines - even if it's in the form of EU wide taxes to help Germany's largesse in taking the greater burden of refugees.

VW is not going to go bust. VW is not going to come under anything other than German ownership.

Suff said...

Kev 7k get a bike mate :-)

Ryan said...

To be fair to VW I don't think there is a single high-efficiency engine that comes close to delivering the MPG in practice that the official government figures suggest they should.

I'm guessing it is actually common practice to have the engine management system load different parameters when it detects it is doing a 0-60 test or a emissions test.

Probably there are engineering departments in the whole car industry under pressure to deliver ever better MPG and 0-60 figures and they have decided the easiest way to give the top brass what they want is to simply cheat. Top brass probably didn't even know what was going on.

Steven_L said...

There are all manner of ways the 'official' emissions tests are fiddled.

ivan said...

This 'problem' is just the green blob flexing its muscles with the EPA requiring such high standards that the cars would be almost useless if they were adhered to.

The thing they don't tell is that the levels of nitrous oxide have been drooping long before the EPA requirements were introduced. Also the the requirements in the EU are different to those of the US.

This whole circus has the feel of being something to bolster the UN climate junket in Paris at the end of the year.

Ryan said...

Steven_L: Fantastic report. Shows what we have known for some time that the test results are being deliberately fiddled to meet set targets by all manufacturers. VW is far from being the worst - that title would go to Mercedes and Vauxhall. Quite timely as I am about to replace my car and fuel economy is an important factor in my choice.

I love the internet.

Ryan said...

Ivan: Read Steven_L's report he has linked to above. You will see that car makers have been known for some time to be fixing the results using golden cars tested in their own test environment with software to manipulate the test results according to the test being performed. This is giving figures for efficiency which can be up to 50% higher than real world. This is cheating customers out of thousands of pounds in fuel savings over the period of ownership of the car.