Scandal over exhaust emissions at VW
The US Justice Department is investigating German carmaker Volkswagen, according to news reports. The company admitted on the weekend that it had manipulated emissions tests for diesel vehicles in the US. Germany's much touted reliability has been exposed as a myth, some journalists comment. Others say consumers are also to blame for the shoddy work in the automotive industry.
VW scandal tarnishes Germany's image
Volkswagen symbolises everything German: precision, honesty, the successful German economy and a social peace that nonetheless doesn't stifle innovation, comments the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny: "But now another characteristic must be added to the list: side-stepping rules. The scandal over US diesel engines with dream emissions - but only in tests - is huge. No amount of words of deep regret from company boss Martin Winterkorn will put things right. German cars - whether rightly or wrongly - are seen as a symbol of honesty by the entire car industry. Volkswagen is trying to smooth over the scandal in America with a large-scale recall operation. But after this fraud many Americans will say: You too, Brutus?"
Who else is cheating at the expense of the environment?
By manipulating its emissions values German carmaker Volkswagen has committed a double betrayal, the centre-left daily La Repubblica rails: "This is a betrayal of the global myth of German uprightness and the cult of reliability of the world's biggest and most popular carmaker. The disclosure of emissions-fixing has quickly taken on far graver dimensions than simply the humiliation of a company that overtook Toyota for the first time in the first half of 2015. … Because this emissions measurement fraud comes at a time when the whole world is making an effort to limit the damage wreaked by pollution. This raises the worrying question of how many manipulated measuring instruments there are of which we are not aware? And if even the Germans, who are always so eager to lecture others on honesty, are cheating, who can be trusted nowadays?"
Politicians still fawning over carmakers
Following the Volkswagen Group's admission that emmissions tests had been manipulated the value of shares in the company dropped by more than 20 percent on Monday. But just as alarming as Volkswagen's audacity is the German government's reaction to the scandal, the left-leaning daily taz chides: "What the responsible Ministry of Transport is not doing is quickly setting up investigations similar to those that led to the discovery of the scandal in the US, so as to clear up whether illegal manipulations have also taken place in Europe. Instead the government is in all seriousness demanding that VW provide it with information about whether it has also committed fraud in Germany. And that's all for now. Such naivete, such helplessness is shocking. Unfortunately, however, it's symptomatic of the German government's dealings with the carmaker: instead of introducing controls and regulations, the government regularly acts as its highest-placed interest group."
Consumers' tightness also to blame
The Volkswagen scandal also casts a shadow on the behaviour of consumers, who always want to buy things as cheaply as possible, comments the liberal business daily Wirtschaftsblatt: "Everything is produced on a tight budget and by as few workers as possible, who as a result have less time to do their work. And costs are also cut when it comes to materials. Taken together these factors ultimately lead to low-quality products. We like to make fun of the bad quality of products and the resulting consequences, but perhaps we should stop and think about how our own buying behaviour and wishes contribute to this problem. After all, the modern consumer wants everything to be immediately available - and at low prices of course."