So let me start out by saying that I'm delving into an area that I don't know much about. Business, law, politics, it's all stuff I don't usually give more than two thoughts about such things before I go onto thinking about something else, so if anyone finds some glaring holes in my thinking, by all means, point it out.
So this afternoon, I was thinking about this post I made about Volkswagen's epic fuck up and how if the fine sets as is, VW is fucked here in The States. When you consider the fact that the majority of the European Union nations and even countries like China are also looking into ways to stick it to VW, they're probably more than a little screwed at this point. Even if they're able to negotiate for lesser fines, the sheer number of countries looking at fining them might make them go bankrupt.
A large part of me has absolutely no objection to this. I'm sure that there have been companies out there that have done worse in the past and have only gotten a slap on the wrist. The thing is though, I do think VW did wrong and I think eventually someone needs to be made an example of to make other companies think twice before acting improperly. So if VW is the company that gets used as an example as to how not to fuck things up, so be it.
Another large part of me worries though. VW is huge. Until Toyota recently retook the top spot, VW was the largest automaker in the world. So many people and so many economies rely on VW to get by financially. If they were to actually go under, so many people would go under with them. At the same time, VW is such a large part of Germany's economy, punishing them could have an impact in the political world too. So with that, I wonder if there is a way to actually punish VW and punish them effectively without punishing the people that rely on them, or will we be forced to give them a slap on the wrist for fear of any major economic and political fallout?
Don't think of crime and punishment. Think of markets and regulation. You brought it up yourself: Mitsubishi has delayed their clean diesel engines for years because they couldn't meet their emissions goals, while Volkswagen has been selling "clean" diesels that met those same goals by LYING. So. VW became the largest automaker in the world at Mitsubishi's expense. Those gains came at the expense of hard-working, honest engineers that were legitimately trying to play the game.
In my opinion, Germany at large has enjoyed an unfair reputation for quality and excellence. Volkswagens have always been pieces of shit. Yeah - my Bosch dishwasher was pretty great compared to the crap dishwashers I dealt with in Los Angeles, but it was a sad comparison to the Maytag I had prior to the Bosch. And then it burst into flames. And then I looked it up and it was the second recall of over 600,000 Bosch dishwashers in four years. And then I was reminded that my Mitsubishi ate FIVE Bosch waterpumps and FOUR Bosch alternators in 18 months, and then we switched to Nippon Denso for both and they've been going strong since 2006. VWs, BMWs and Audis run on $70/gal coolant, which is only available at the dealer, and if you don't drain and flush your coolant system prior to swapping in the normal stuff, it turns into gelatin. So you'd better pay your dealer $150/hr to top up your blinker fluid because, you know, German engineering.
So is it punishment? Or is it comeuppance? American cars have had a bad reputation that's a hangover from the mid '80s and their resale value is shit. German cars are bought by people who believe the hype, and now that hype has been obliterated.
VW won't go under. If they were completely fucking erased from the earth, they wouldn't drop Germany's GDP by a single percentage point.
Q: what's a million dead volkswagens at the bottom of the ocean?