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#dieselgate aftermath part II

I’m completely at a loss about a great many things. I don’t know where to start…. I’m not even sure how to put my thoughts in order. Ok, I’ll start with the hypocrisy of it all. 

I said it in a rant last fall: VW’s gotta pay. It messed up and lied to us but damn, nearly $50-billion? Why not a quadrillion bazillion dollars? Criminal charges I can understand but again, what is this going to solve? I’m thinking this is akin to tending to one paper cut, from the thousands on the planet and hoping for some miracle. 

What about the California methane leak? Have you heard of this? Probably not because it’s bad, really really bad. But you’ve heard about VW and the 3/4-million or so diesel cars in North America and the likelihood that you will die a terrible horrible death because your neighbour four houses down has been hauling his kids around a 3-year old Golf Sportwagen TDI. You’ve not seen, or next to nothing, about the fact that the leak equates to over 4-million cars driving on the road. Every single day. 

Perhaps the Government needs the billions to clean up that mess… I like Elon Musk’s idea that VW should be forced to put zero-emission on the road. They’re already working at it with the cool BUDD-e and more. That might make too much sense though…  

About criminal charges, has anyone followed what’s gone down with Takata? I won’t elaborate here but here’s a company that’s known about many people potentially dying for over 15 years because of their product. 

Over that same period of time, nearly every major car manufacturer has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Hell, everybody’s guilty. Volkswagen willingly and knowingly duped everyone. That’s not right, it’s illegal and they can’t get away with it. 

The car business is and has been in lots of doodoo for over 40 years. And that’ll never change. There’s too much money to be made… 

LAST MINUTE ADDITION: But now I’m flabbergasted. Apparently, and according to Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller, they didn’t lie! You see, they didn’t understand the American law. OK, so they weren’t smart enough for this. They were, however, smart enough to understand that they wouldn't meet emissions, smart enough to figure how to beat the system, but not smart enough to understand the Queen’s English. Thanks Mueller. Next CEO please!

And now, California regulators have rejected VW’s diesel fix plan. Maybe they deserve to be in the sh*t they’re in more than I initially thought. 

I’m scared
I am because the hypocrisy rages on. Here, in the car business, the delicate status quo is necessary. The hypocrites I’ve gone on about frighten me, especially those in power. If I once thought that nothing was going to change after #dieselgate, I’ve recently begun to think its effects will be far more profound than I first thought. 

Scenario: Said Big Shots scream that the environment’s ruined! We’re all gonna die of cancer because of Volkswagen, not to mention performance and sports cars. Imagine what comes next: These cars we so love? That’s it, they’re done. I can read the headlines now: No more ICE cars over 200 horsepower. The trillion-hp Bugatti Chiron? No way. 800-hp Corvette ZR1. Never. But a 65-hp Corolla? 40-million more please. 

My fear is put to rest somewhat by the fact that if there’s no money to be made by passing this type of legislature then it won’t happen. Supercars, performance and sports are good for businesses and profit margins so they’ll be around a while yet. I hope. 

Pivotal point perhaps?
Could it be that we’re currently making automotive history? As in, 25 years from now, we’ll be talking about the death of the car and how it all started to come undone in 2015-16?

Sure, car sharing is huge right now and progress where autonomous cars are concerned shows no signs of slowing down but is this the when we car and driving enthusiasts will remember as the period when the “car” died? Or at least the beginning of the real end?

#dieselgate re-raises many questions that we’ve been asking ourselves since the early 70s. We’ve been aware for a long time that our current state of affairs is not sustainable and we’ve been working at addressing but because, once more, there’s profit to be made, we’ve not progressed (I suddenly hate this word…) quickly enough and we’re going to pay for it sooner rather than later. 

I’ve become a sceptic 
My final thought is this: I just about don’t believe anything I read or hear anymore. 

On a purely personal level, I’m now sceptical about every fuel economy numbers I come across. Whenever I go on a European OEM website, I’m thinking all CO2 grams per kilometer ratings are bogus. I’m certainly not saying that this is the case but VW’s blunder and Natural Resources Canada’s recent change to a 5-cycle fuel economy test (from a 3-cycle that was off for years and years) has all left me with the feeling that we’re still being mislead and that we’ll only find out in 10 years when the next big formula revision comes out. 

How’s that for being totally disillusioned? This may also have to do, in part, with experience and age… 

I’m not happy about any of this. In fact I wish it was all completely different. I need this business to thrive and be around for the next 50 years!