Does Volkswagen really deserve the gallows? The Dieselgate scandal started September 18, 2015. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued findings that VW deliberately installed a cheating software to escape strict emission standards for its diesel cars. Two days later, the company conceded the truth of the cheating. Volkswagen’s CEO apologized and has resigned. Nowadays, popular opinion labels Volkswagen as the worst carmaker in the world.
German are serious about their cars. As I am pretty familiar with the German culture, I find it safe to assume that German men prefer their car to their wife. If you don’t believe me, visit any German car wash on a Saturday morning and check the waiting line. I know as many Germans who wash their car every week as French who wash theirs every two years.
My dream for Dieselgate
I had a dream, the dream of German roads without a single Volkswagen (VW).
Let me share my Dieselgate dream with you. The following description is pure fiction, but based on evidence. Of course, any resemblance to reality is coincidental.
In Germany, around 9.5 million cars on the road are made by Volkswagen. “Volkswagen” (German for “people’s car”) is the market leader in Germany. In 2014, VW had a market share around 21%. If VW recalled all its cars, one out of every five cars on the German Autobahns would disappear. Remembering the rush-hour traffic between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, I certainly wouldn’t complain, and I am pretty sure the majority of German drivers would also support this decongestion of the highways.
Following the recall of all VW cars, I could easily find a parking spot in the Frankfurt Westend neighborhood. I could even drive to any major soccer event or to the Oktoberfest in Munich. I don’t recommend the latest, as it is suggested to have a designated driver who is supposed not to drink. This isn’t really funny, especially when you’re in the middle of the largest beer party in the world.
In Wolfsburg, home of the Volkswagen headquarters, I suppose the share of Golf, Passat, and Co. is even higher. Without VW, half the city could probably be redesigned into a pedestrian zone. Imagine going for groceries to Aldi and walking home with the shopping cart!
I apologize to all Wolfsburgers reading this post, as I’ve never been in Wolfsburg. What I know from Wolfsburg is the view through the window when passing via ICE (the German high-speed train) to Berlin. My view of Wolfsburg is certainly limited!
Germany without Volkswagen would be like the US without the Super Bowl
While the German government would struggle with the loss of KFZ-Steuer (motor-vehicle tax), the sudden rise in the import of French cars would save France from bankruptcy. Renault, Citroen, and Peugeot would assume the role of the German carmakers and lower the unemployment rate in France significantly.
Car-repair shops would reconvert their mechanics from the solid VW to the less reliable French, Italian, and Japanese cars. With the increased need for creative mechanics able to deal with the European and Asian divas, economic migrants from Albania and Kosovo would fill in gaps, and Heinz Sonnendecker, my mechanic in Eltville, could eventually retire.
If Volkswagen leaves its place as the leader in middle-sized cars, Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche will step in quickly. (I don’t count Audi since it belongs to the VW group.) Of course, it is still possible that all German carmakers may collapse in the next few weeks. Maybe they cheated too! And maybe the whole story is a conspiracy from the CIA to shut down the German industry of luxury cars?
VW Golf to be replaced by the new Opel Astra!
At the same time, the VW Golf, Germans’ favorite car, would be replaced by the new Opel Astra. Since 1929, Opel has served as a subsidiary of the American General Motors. In its October issue, ADAC Motorwelt (the monthly magazine from the German pendant to AAA), presented the middle-class car with great marks.
And here it is again: the American conspiracy! Once the German upscale automakers were down, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Buick could take their place more easily.
No! Stop this nightmare!
No Golf anymore, but many Opel Astra? My dream started to turn into a nightmare.
All I’ve heard and read on the topic in the last weeks has denounced VW’s cheating. Honestly, how stupid must VW be to think it could successfully fool international standards? However, the scam worked for six years. Pure German efficiency, I’d say!
Nevertheless, it’s sad to see how quickly the world has forgotten the quality of VW cars.
In the United States, the fame of VW comes from the Beetle. In 1971, the Beetle was the most produced car in the world, surpassing the previous record of the Ford Model T. In the last 40 years, VW produced more than 30 million Golf worldwide, making it one of the most popular cars ever. According to a recent test by AutoBild (a famous car magazine in Germany with around 2 million copies sold in 2014), the VW Golf – Sports Edition achieved second place in the ranking of best German cars in 2014.
Why are Volkswagen cars so popular?
It may be difficult for Americans to understand why Volkswagen is so popular in Germany and Europe. Americans are used to driving large, comfy cars. High-quality and long-lasting engines are rarely the priority in the States. A German car is always well-constructed. The longer you drive one, the more you become aware of this.
VW are cheap enough to attract a lot of consumers, but they are also fun to drive, efficient, and practical. The image of Volkswagen is one of quality, comfort, and style. A few weeks ago, I was the passenger in a Volkswagen Touareg (no, not a diesel engine!). I complimented the car’s owner: I had forgotten how nicely the doors close in a German car! They are heavy but close quietly. Furthermore, I had more than enough space for my legs, and my right leg was not wedged against some part of the tire.
A German Dieselgate? Yes, but look at your energy consumption, America!
Admittedly, an estimated eleven million VW cars worldwide (and around 500,000 in the States) are equipped with the emissions-cheating software. Nevertheless, all Volkswagen cars still remain outstanding, high-quality engineered products. According to an article from Wirtschaftswoche and a poll from market researcher PULS, 54% of Germans are still interested in buying a Volkswagen, while only 11% have decided not to buy this brand anymore.
Dieselgate certainly will accrue side effects that damage the image of products “Made in Germany.” Nearly 67% of Germans think that other carmakers are also involved in similar scams for emissions. Last May, ADAC pointed out how significant the differences between the announced emission values and their measures were for manufacturers besides Volkswagen as well.
My first car was a Volkswagen Polo. I was 20 years old. When I turned 27, I got my first company car: an Audi A4. At age 30, I choose my first family car: a VW Passat. I have only good memories of these cars. I never had a breakdown, and they were fuel-efficient and fun to drive.
In the US, I drive a Honda Odyssey, which is a practical car for the family but an incredible gas-guzzler. In comparison to pick-up trucks, one of America’s favorite cars, my Honda still has a low fuel consumption. When I get groceries, I wonder how much plastic American producers use to pack almost everything. According to the World Bank, America is the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after China. Of course, what Volkswagen did in scamming emissions equipment was not okay. But I am sure the company will fix this problem. It’s just a question of time.
I don’t need a new car right now, so I won’t be buying a Volkswagen car in the next few months. But Volkswagen stocks are on my list—I believe in this company.
What do you think? Never again Volkswagen or still in love with your VW? I would love to read your comments!
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