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Dodging Responsibility for Scandal, VW Heads Point Fingers at Low-Level Engineers


Dodging Responsibility for Scandal, VW Heads Point Fingers at Low-Level Engineers

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Top-ranking Volkswagen officials on Friday cast blame for the company's large-scale emissions-cheating scandal on a small group of unidentified and relatively low-level engineers and technicians.

In public statements issued at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, the company's new CEO Matthias Müller condemned the "unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development."


We need a climate where mistakes are not hidden.
One wonders - did he realise the full irony of his phraseology?

And so the return to business-as-usual gets underway. Point the finger elsewhere. Bluff and bluster. A few weeks from now the story will already be fading.

A commentary I saw on this yesterday detailed the likely scale of all the industry lies, to which the commentator added that the real problem was how VW were to regain their company image. That's the wonderful subservient media we know only too well...


Well CEO Matthias Muller has to try and protect his $67,000,000.00 golden parachute!


This seems like a sophomoric attempt to pass the buck. I doubt it will fly. I'm surprised at the lack of sophistication of VW's spin-meisters. They need to sacrifice somebody, or several somebodies, further up the food chain to have any credibility at all.I'm also surprised at VW's engineering reputation in this country. Consumer reports rates them way down in most categories, and anecdotal evidence suggests they break often, spend a lot of time in the shop, and are expensive to fix. On the other hand, my wife and I got 400,000 miles out of 1990 Fox. Then we sold it to a sailor at the Groton Ct. submarine base for much more than it was worth. There are always exceptions.


Second Lieutenants' heads will roll for this!


The irony and scathingly revealing "... we need a climate .. " -

Well, we do have a climate, in the natural sense, but it is one of those "externalized" costs of doing business. Funny how suddenly the climate, er ... climate, one so long denied as being impacted while possessed (land, mineral, air rights) and abused by a sub-culture very conveniently excluding inextricable interactive aspects of the planet while extracting value from EVERY STAGE of acquisition of the materials and designing planned obsolescence into its "product". Lovely how the word "product" is a sacred, timeless entity - kinda like god, until it too after a planned brevity of life adds to the other end of the exclusionary margins - the toxic car graveyards.

The entire impetus of the system is at this point designed as a neoteny (permanent immaturity) play pen for exponential extrapolation of everything deemed extricable. Funny how that gets you to a place where there is no there there (pun intended)


Let's remember that the statement above was made by a representative of a company that intentionally deceived the US EPA for seven years - and they would have us believe that top management knew nothing of this.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
- Joseph Goebbels - Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany


There is no end to the sins of capitalism. Profit over people and the planet ... every time.


The fish rots from the head to the tail.


That this sorry excuse for a human being would blame the people on their payroll to whom they give the orders and fund the work is beyond the pale! This guy has lost the reins on his first day. He needs to be chased out of his office on the first day. Of course it had to be low level technicians and engineers who did their dirty work, this punk-ass and his sorry 1% board sitting crony-ilk couldn't have done it! But there is no way in hell that I'm buying that the "Low-Level Engineers & Technicians" did it without the full "conspiratorial" awareness, knowledge and consent, that is if they didn't give direct orders down their chains-of-command to do so. The audacity. What a piece of shit he is.

And another thing, it doesn't matter that the old CEO retired, he needs to be tried for fraud and if found guilty, be put in jail, over here, for the crimes of his company. Simple proof. Were you in charge of the company when this illegal activity occurred, were you also the board members at that time? Yes. Good, you are all now wards of the state for a mandatory 5 years, plus a fine to be paid by each member, and a similar cumulative fine paid by the company along with the restitution of correcting the software in all 11 million cars at their own expense. We're trying to clean up the air, don't screw with us!


Wrll, we recently got a 2002 Jetta (before this issue) and everyone says what great cars they are. But I hope you're right, that this contemptible attempt to blame some low-level nobodies won't fly.


I agree. If they pocket the profits from what the company does, they should also have responsibility for what it does. If they did face jail time for corporate crimes, they wouldn't let this sort of thing go down (as readily).


In a word ... "Bullshit!"


The new CEO, Matthias Müller, just lost the support and dedication of the workers under his command ... on the very first day! Job well done.

This is another example of how the global elite (1%) just don't get it. They are never responsible for their failings ... including corporate crimes. They are totally wrapped up in themselves and don't understand the value and contribution of the workers under their command.


Standard operating procedure for major corporations.... profits flow to upper executives while culpability funnels down to the corporate peons.


I'm always amazed at how CD commenters seem to be have never worked for any kind of even moderate-sized organization or have any kind of understanding of organizational or technical complexity. Do you honestly believe that the CEO or any of the upper management of a car manufacturer directs the technical details of the engine control systems? Of course the engineers are to blame.


Company ethical policies are set in place by the corporate executives. If they send the message that it is permissible to deviate from standard procedures engineers will do whats necessary to obtain the desired results. CD commenters are not naive to how corporate structure operates. One place where I worked a middle manager held a meeting where he told everyone that management bares responsibility for mistakes in a major job situation. Needless to say, he was gone shortly after that.


As is common, the engineers were given a directive to produce a specified result. The details were at the machinations of the engineers to obtain/produce the specified result.

Who is most responsible, the person/group giving the directive or the person/group that fulfilled the directive?

While both are responsible, only the person/group that fulfilled the directive is held accountable under corporate feudalism/capitalism.


Sorry Yunzer-even though I've been self-employed most of my life, I find it hard t believe that any piece of engineering with the consequences of this one-would not have been known at higher levels within the company, and approved. Another problem with your reasoning is that if it was "just the engineers", how did they manage to keep together the conspiracy amongst colleagues that would be required: no leaks? no whistle blowers? Come on.


I have worked for a fortune 50 company and one of the largest pharma companies in the world, and am well aware of how large corporations work. And they don't get off with a: "the worker bee did it" with me.
Let me share a probable scenario with you:
The background: VW is not selling diesels in North America because their emissions don't meet EPA standards. If they put the additional Mercedes catalyst on it, they lose fuel economy, making them just another competitor with no edge in small to upper mid sized cars. The board is being pushed by stockholders to regain diesel market share in NA.
The initial construction of the crime: The CEO tells the upper managers that they must get back into that market. So they tell the middle managers and they have their engineering and tech teams integrate the Mercedes catalytic NOx reduction system, but it adds weight and reduces fuel efficiency.

The sales folks tell the CEO that they have to have the fuel efficiency or it won't sell. The CEO shares the news with the board who says, and THIS IS THE CRIME (ON SOOOO MANY LEVELS, eh?! eh?!! so pay attention!) The word sent back down is: "Well it has to achieve the fuel efficiency and the emissions limits." Knowing that it can't be done in the time given, nor for the resources provided, ...unless. Well one of the managers knows that they had to install a bit of software code to run the car on the dyno and override the traction control and other safety features that would ONLY be done when it's being tested under load. That's what a dynamometer is a calibrated, measured load. And he also knows that the only way the vehicle can get the higher mileage is to turn the NOx limiting EGR controls off. When the EGR (introduces already burned, but cooled exhaust back in to reduce the combustion temp) system is turned off the fuel economy of a diesel increases as much as 15%.

Somewhere a Manager of that company was aware that this was the only way to achieve both objectives. Whether it was filtered to the dearly departed last CEO asshole with the golden parachute (hopefully So He Thinks! Only!) or whether he got the cold hard facts, unfiltered by the multiple politicking Grima Wormtongue's in the middle makes NO DIFFERENCE TO ME. And it shouldn't to you, assuming you are also a homo-sapiens with specific biological requirements including clean air and water. He and the board all need to be sent to prison (etc. etc) as the *CORPOREAL *representatives of the corporation, for the fraud.

As long as we agree to all the above, I'll agree that the engineer did it!