Believe it or not, if you choose to lie or stretch truths to the US government about your company’s products, it’s not going to bode well. Former Volkswagen exec Olivier Schmidt is now finding this out the hard way, as he’s just been arrested by the FBI for his role in VW’s ‘Dieselgate’ debacle which saw millions of autos recalled.
In 2014, Schmidt gave false explanations of why his company’s autos had such high emissions ratings. We found out later, after the lie began to fall apart, that software was designed to defeat emissions tests. Thus, the results were never incorrect; rather, deliberately misleading software was to blame.
The German automotive company ended up recalling a staggering 11 million vehicles, which is such a large number, you’re bound to know someone or a friend of a friend that’s affected by it. Few of those affected are actually complaining, however, as the buy-back program is so alluring that many people actually come ahead. One friend of mine told me that because of this program, he essentially only spent $1,000 for his used VW the couple of years he owned it.
While many owners benefit from this debacle (outside of the temporary inconvenience), there are important reasons why we have strict emissions regulations – 30,000 people in the UK alone die each and every year due to respiratory problems caused from high emissions. That’s no joke.
All we can do is hope that VW’s severe punishment of shelling out $14.7 billion to clean up this mess will prevent other companies from trying to pull a quick one. Plain and simple, people’s lives are at risk, but sadly, and in this case, we can see that it sometimes doesn’t matter when all you can see are dollar signs.