Specifically at VW, but not confined to them. Automakers have historically fought safety and environmental regulation.
The former Volkswagen executive said Volkswagen’s engineer-driven culture takes the notion even further. He said the engineers felt that the politicians were guilty of rank hypocrisy, especially in the United States, also grumbling that electric cars make no sense as long as power plants are burning fossil fuels.
“There’s an attitude of moral superiority there,” he said. “The engineers think they know best.”
That Volkswagen is nonetheless obliged to obey applicable environmental laws, he said, is a notion likely to fall on deaf ears in Wolfsburg, especially compared to demands to be No. 1 in sales. (The motive for the software evasion is widely believed to have been to increase sales of diesel-powered cars in the United States.)
Such attitudes are hardly confined to Volkswagen, and a willingness to circumvent environmental regulations may emerge at other automakers. But Volkswagen’s board may be especially insulated from outside opinion, given its paucity of independent directors.
Considering the damage to Volkswagen from the still-unfolding scandal, its attitudes and approach to governance may have to change. Volkswagen faces a staggering number of investigations and lawsuits. Volkswagen said it set aside $7.3 billion, which doesn’t seem nearly enough; legal fees are likely to run into the billions, and the Environmental Protection Agency alone could fine the company up to $18 billion. It also has to figure out how to recall the 11 million affected cars, since it still isn’t clear how the company can remove the software and meet emissions standards without compromising automotive performance.
If VW loses trust in the US they will be set back at least a decade. If it spreads much beyond that, they may be finished.
a tip of the hat to Jim