Diesel-gate & VW’s Corporate Social Responsibility

How Volkswagen Mocked CSR: “DieselGate” Outs Sustainable Business Sham

In September 2015, the automotive industry played witness to the largest scandal among its ranks in recent history, as Volkswagen was caught cheating with its pants down.

The German car manufacturer had recently overtaken Toyota in sales, in the first half of 2015, to establish itself as the leader of the global car market.

Though, this shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, since VW was largely leading the automotive industry in terms of revenues, profits, and assets even in 2013.

The world was left with jaws agape in early September, as the German giant admitted to placing “cheat” software in roughly 11 million of its diesel-engined cars worldwide.

Carried out since 2009 onwards, this subterfuge was perpetrated in an effort to deceive pollutant emissions testing in developed markets like US and EU.

As investigations into the fraud continue, the primary reason seems to be that Volkswagen did not wish to install a Urea-based exhaust system marketed as AdBlue – roughly $336 per unit – into the “clean diesel” engines which they’d spent years developing for their 2009 models.

In-house testing into the engines revealed that they emitted roughly 35 to 40 times the amount of nitrogen oxide, linked to smog, acid rain, asthma, and other illnesses, above the limits allowed by clean air legislation in developed nations.

Volkswagen did not wish to install a Urea-based exhaust system

Suddenly, the car manufacturer was faced with two options – go back to the drawing board and miss out on the 2009 car season, or spend exorbitant amounts of money to fix the problem by retro-fitting their engines with AdBlue.

They chose option three – cheat through a “defeat device” software. Ironically, the test which ultimately uncovered the deception was carried out by independent American researchers – working for an NGO, rather than the EPA or other bigwig agencies – to show their European counterparts that diesel engines can be used with cleaner emissions.

Despite their published efforts coming to light in 2014, however, the EPA was unable to make Volkswagen admit to the cheat till September 2015 – after threatening to withhold approval for VW’s and Audi’s 2016 diesel models.

Suddenly, VW was faced with two options. They chose option three – cheat through a “defeat device” software.

Now, after having lost its CEO in the wake of the scandal alongwith almost a fifth of its share value, Volkswagen is looking at criminal investigations from the US and Chinese governments, a legal penalty for $18 billion for the roughly 482,000 cars it sold in US, and class-action lawsuits from owners of post-2009 VW Jetta, Golf, Beetle, and Passat, as well as similar Audi diesel models.

Even though the firm has set aside roughly $7.3 billion to deal with this scandal, early projections show that this amount may be grossly insufficient.

The EPA was unable to make Volkswagen admit to the cheat till September 2015

By now, we’re sure that you have a flood of unanswered questions – What are these “defeat devices”? How do they affect the car’s performance?

How did they fool some of the most sophisticated testing equipment US has to offer?

If the software was made to deceive complex targeted trials, how did an independent team unearth the ruse?

Does the US government have any measures in place to protect consumers from similar problems in the future?

To answer all of these questions, as well as provide our patrons & visitors with the entire story so far in an easily digestible format, we at CakeHR have prepared a comprehensive slide deck for your perusal.

Thus, CAKE HR presents: “How Volkswagen Mocked Corporate Social Responsibility: ‘DieselGate’ Outs Sustainable Business Sham”.

As always, we would love to hear your take on this scandal and how you think it may affect the automotive industry, and VW specifically – given that the EPA and other agencies have vowed to step up stringent testing processes across the board, and other car-makers may get involved in the backlash as well.

Please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.

Lastly, if you’re the owner of a Volkswagen diesel, you can use this website to check if your car has the “defeat device”, as well as stay updated on the eventual recalls and upgrades planned by the company.


Written By

Aniket Saksena

I'm a business/academic/creative/HR writer, interested in pursuing and researching as many fields as possible in an effort to become a cross-domain business expert and opinion leader.