So what the hell is going on?
On August 28, 2009, a veteran California Highway Patrol officer was driving a Lexus ES350 with three of his family members near San Diego, California. Tragedy soon struck. The car’s throttle stuck open and it began to accelerate. The driver lost control, and the acceleration continued. In a matter of minutes, the Lexus hit another car, rolled over several times and burst into flames. All four people burned to death. Supposedly, the problem was the fact that the ES350 was fitted with oversized floor mats from an RX.
That was enough to trap the accelerator pedal and eventually cause the crash. The Toyota unintended acceleration scandal soon erupted, even though there’d been problems (kept quiet, mind you) about Toyota’s drive by wire system for a few years already. And then came the GM ignition switch scandal. 124 deaths have been linked to that lovely matter of when a car suddenly turns off while driving because, for some victims, their car keys weighed too much. What’s next on the list of automaker screw ups? Oh, right. VW. Nothing like purposely creating emissions-defying software for its signature diesel engines. 11 million vehicles in total, some of which were pumping out up to 40 times NOx than they should have.
Many top VW executives claim they knew nothing. But really? Really? Huge settlements are currently being worked out between VW and several governments. And now we’ve just learned that Mitsubishi did some emissions cheating of its own. But its cheating wasn’t as complex or tech savvy as VW’s. No, Mitsubishi messed with the load placed on the tires of a few models, thus altering the true fuel numbers. That’s four automaker scandals in less than a decade. What the hell is going on? What they hell were they thinking? How can the car buying public not only trust any of those four automakers again, but the industry at large?
For example, VW could have avoided this whole scandal by simply installing selective catalytic reduction and urea injection in its diesels. Why didn’t that happen? To save money. Well, it’s paying for that dumbass decision now. Big time. Toyota, GM, VW and Mitsubishi deserve every bit of criticism being directed at them. And then some. But no one will go to jail. Not one automaker executive (former or current) will be sent to the slammer. GM even tried to somewhat blame some lower level engineers for not alerting their superiors about those faulty switches. What I’m wondering is whether there’ll be more automaker scandals, big or small, in the coming years? Haven’t they all learned by now that cover-ups are exposed at some point? Only time will tell.