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It’s like lunatics running the asylum
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Thu, 19th May 2016 14:27:08 GMT

Automotive industry self regualtion emissions diesel AID Newsletter

Open quote signBankers must be heaving a sigh of relief, because today it is the carmakers’ turn to stand out as particularly unloved. 

Volkswagen, first to get caught big time over its emissions cheating scandal, stands out above all the rest as the arch villain of the industry. 

Like throwing petrol on the flames - for company services in ill-fated 2015 - a dozen of its bigwigs were reported to receive a combined gargantuan reward in excess of €60m. 

For the media, following on from the long-drawn out ‘greedy bankers’ era, all this is manna from heaven. 

There’s another side to this tale. 

The autoindustry’s governing bodies, charged with the responsibility to ensure that carmakers stick to the rules, ended up with egg on their faces. 

Worse still, they stand accused of sitting back happily twiddling their thumbs, while the carmakers effectively continued to regulate themselves. 

Meanwhile, the regulatory agencies - set up principally to act in the public interest, were cosying-up to the autoindustry for years. 

For ages, it seems, the lunatics were given licence to run the asylum.

Given the fallout from the crisis, first brought to public attention by the bombshell of Volkswagen’s almost blatant disregard of emission rules, it comes as no surprise that previously all too lax regulators now feel compelled to act. 

This is chiefly to regain trust. 

Ask almost anyone senior in the industry, albeit anonymously and in strict confidence: No one really believed that Volkswagen was the only culprit. 

Others, despite the expected manifestations of innocence - if not exactly breaking previously lax rules - are surely at least bending the rules. In terms of exhaust and CO2 emissions in particular, almost everyone, anecdotal evidence now suggests, is using smoke and mirrors to further their aims. 

These suspicions - given that of late regulators’ previously idle brooms suddenly began to sweep a great deal more vigorously - were proved right. 

Lo and behold, and true to the maxim ‘those who search will find’, we are now presented with a forever growing list of carmakers which stand accused of not only bending the rules, but breaking them. 

Although innocent until proven guilty, the list is getting longer by the day. 

Apart from the US, which to its credit was first to get this particular ball rolling, even Germany - albeit after methodical media detective work - suddenly feels compelled to search for smoking guns. 

The same goes for France, Korea, and Japan no less. 

The latest victim of the crunch? 

Yesterday’s Suzuki admission that long-employed fuel-economy testing methods did not comply with Japanese standards. 

The latest bombshell sparked a near ten per cent dive in Suzuki shares. 

This comes hot on the heels of Mitsubishi’s admission to overstate fuel-economy on some K-Cars in Japan. 

The cost - apart from the stiff financial damages waiting to be unleashed soon - the loss of independence. 

On the grounds of the evidence already dug up so far, and in spite of desperate manifestations of innocence, there is now the genuine belief that in the topical emissions and fuel-economy field alone today’s zealous regulators, wherever they are, are set to claim more scalps.

A paradox, perhaps, but latest slam-bang discoveries of blatant wrong doings by a forever growing number of its lesser autoindustry members, could be soothing comfort to hounded Volkswagen. 

That’s chiefly the belief that it no longer stands out as the only black sheep of the pack. 

But whether this will stop thousands of blood-sensing lawyers from suing VW for their pound of flesh, including Norway’s usually passive and silent wealth fund, is of course an altogether different question
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