Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

Image result for volkswagen emissions scandal
The iconic Volkswagen logo, VW

With a push for clean diesel engine vehicles in the United States and a large campaign for their “low emissions” vehicles, Volkswagen had aimed to satisfy these demands by focusing on and producing diesel-powered vehicles.  To capture the market, Volkwagen would need to build larger cars favored by Americans and be able to comply with the Obama administration’s high standards on mileage and emissions.

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen’s chief executive, planned for Volkswagen to more than triple its sales in the United States in just a decade, making them the world’s largest automaker over Toyota.  Winterkorn stated, “By 2018, we want to take our group to the very top of the global car industry,” but with a limited amount of time until the production start date and high vehicle emissions still a predominant issue, Volkwagen was in a tight spot [2].

In September of 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that a number of Volkswagen’s diesel engine vehicles sold in United States were equipped with a software that would detect when the vehicle was undergoing emissions testing.  When emissions tests were detected, the software would change the performance of the engine accordingly to improve results.  Volkwagen had cheated the United States’ high mileage and emissions standards by implementing this “defeat device.”

When Volkwagen was originally confronted with evidence that the system in the diesel engines was not performing as advertised, “Volkwagen aggressively pushed back, saying that the regulators were not doing the testing properly” [2].  Volkwagen provided a number of explanations as to why the system was not performing as promised including, weather conditions, driving styles, and other technicalities that they claimed the regulators did not understand when in fact, it was the vehicles that were not performing properly.



[1] BCC News

[2] NY Times


4 thoughts on “Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

  1. Interesting ethical issue. This is something I was unaware of and I think you did a great job summarizing the most important points. How did EPA find this software? Are there any legal actions being taken against Volkswagen?


  2. Thank you! I reference this in my third post, but Peter Mock and John German of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found discrepancies in their research and later found that Volkswagen installed software to cheat strict emissions standards. Volkswagen is being forced to recall millions of vehicles in both the United States and Europe and they are being fined billions of dollars to make up for the many tons of GHG emissions released into the atmosphere as well as cheating standards to regulate these emissions.


  3. Great way of show all those important points in this ethical dilemma!!. The company has not explained the reasons which led him to introduce the software in their vehicles. Saving on implementing the technology needed to control emissions and lower consumption of vehicles that lack of it may be behind the decision or do you think they were other intentions behind this dilemma?


  4. I think Volkswagen was having difficulty satisfying the strict regulations and emissions standards in the United States for their diesel vehicles and ultimately used this cheat device in order to pass all tests and not miss the start of production. There have been similar devices/technology developed by other companies such as Audi years ago that did the same thing when they weren’t able to pass the standards.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s