Stop being so demanding, it's causing automakers to cheat left and right.
Those of us who don’t care about celebrity cheating scandals and think that government conspiracy theories hit too close to the truth for comfort now have the perfect nail biting drama to focus on. That would be the beginning of the collapse of a façade that automakers have put up for some time: the façade of innocence. Dystopian novels like to focus on the skin-crawling creepiness of institutions that commit blatant acts against humanity under the guise of helping the society as a whole, but this is becoming the reality of the modern automaker.
It’s obvious that as entities interested in raising stock prices, automakers must appear the happy go lucky success story that’s on the cutting edge and has just enough smugness to know it’s ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, the type of person who seems like they have it all together is usually the one who is about to crumble, and it’s starting to seem like these automakers are on the brink of losing their image of sanity at the peril of their constant strive for success. Prior to September 2015, Volkswagen was the largest automaker on the planet. It had its own line of TDI diesels that had used the "magic" of German engineering to pass emissions tests while keeping performance and economy numbers that seemed improbably good.
We all know what happened with that. Shock and awe was felt when the gravity of Volkswagen’s cheating was discovered. Marketing departments are good at their jobs and establish legitimate relationships with consumers, so many loyalists and even casual customers felt that they had been cheated on. As the investigation into Volkswagen’s wrongdoings goes deeper, we are beginning to discover that Volkswagen isn’t the only one. Days ago, Japanese officials raided Mitsubishi offices to investigate claims that the auto manufacturer fudged the fuel economy numbers on over 625,000 cars. Since then, the company’s stock price has plunged, losing Japanese automaker over $2.5 billion dollars.
Amid the danger of a no-knock raid, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has launched an internal investigation to verify that its cars are compliant. Confirming their fears, the Department of Justice has placed Mercedes under investigation for its diesel emissions levels. Peugeot was the next company to be put in the spotlight. French authorities have spent this week raiding the automaker’s offices in attempts to find evidence of cheating on emissions tests. While nothing has been found yet, these scandals, along with GM’s ignition cover up and the fact that the company cut costs by selling unsafe cars to the poor, are bringing the downfalls of a culture of tireless success to light.
In a world filled with many variables, it is not feasible to place such a high emphasis on a black line madly searching for the upper right hand corner of a chart. This isn’t an issue that can be solved with stiffer regulation. Jeremy Clarkson thinks "eco-mentalists" are to blame and Elon Musk relayed his message that these occurrences would become more common as the internal combustion engine found its limits. In all likelihood both are right. Like a successful relationship between a good teacher and a struggling student, solving this problem will call for greater collaboration between regulators, automakers, and the consumer so that new cars don’t have to be a balance between demanding rule makers and spoiled consumers.