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As Volkswagen Pushed to Be No. 1, Ambitions Fueled a Scandal

Original Content Publication Date: 09/26/2015

Summary

Volkswagen’s unbridled ambition to become the largest automaker in the world is central to one of the great corporate scandals of the last decade. The Environmental Protection Agency began enforcing stricter standards on mileage, and rather than finding solutions to conform to the standards like other companies, Volkswagen chose to install software in 11 million diesel cars that cheated on emissions tests. This was only discovered when a non-profit group proposed testing on-road diesel emissions from cars in the United States due to discrepancies found between the emissions of diesels in the lab and on the road. After months of denying the accusations of dishonesty, Volkswagen was finally forced to come clean, with enormous consequences, right after achieving its goal of becoming the number one automaker in the world.

Discussion Questions

  1. What might be the root cause of the scandal?
  2. Winterkorn said that “I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”  What do you think VW customers think?  Investors?  Employees?  Other stakeholders?
  3. What steps does the company need to take to rebuild its repuation in the United States?