German carmakers engulfed by cartel scandal
The German car giants Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Daimler reached illegal agreements at secret meetings, German news magazine Der Spiegel reports. Among other things the carmakers agreed to use only small tanks for treating emissions in their diesel vehicles - thus creating the backdrop for the recent diesel scandal. What do these revelations mean for Germany's beloved car industry?
National pride badly dented
Tagesspiegel explains why for the Germans the scandal is about more than just cars:
“German patriotism nowadays is fuelled mainly by economic performance, the country's GDP. It is the result of a collective effort of which the left, too, can feel proud because this patriotism is decoupled from nationalism since it encompasses all those who live and work here: migrants, their children and their grandchildren. ... But there is nothing honourable about practically all the German carmakers cheating on the size of urea solution tanks to neutralise emissions from diesel cars. If it is proven that the biggest German companies were successful only because they cheated, deceived and covered things up then the 'Made in Germany' legend will be dead. Then the whole world will know that they can just as well buy their goods in China, Korea or Indonesia.”
Government backing on the wane
The carmakers are no longer just under pressure from their customers but increasingly also from politics, De Tijd comments:
“Hardly any industry is as closely entwined with the state as the car industry. However, this is slowly but surely changing. A growing number of cities are banning cars from their centres. The German carmakers that had close allies in their own state and the EU for years are now seeing the American state intervene when they cheat. … And now the German cartel authority has a big file on German carmakers sitting on its desk. In view of the ongoing wave of scandals it looks like the car industry must fear the loss of the loyalty of the state more than losing the loyalty of its customers”