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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sept 25: VW, what were you thinking?

Not exactly a smoking gun, but just as deadly to the beloved Volkswagen brand. In this case that gun was aimed by VW itself at its own foot, and with a steady hand, the trigger was pulled, many thousands of times. What were they thinking?

Let's go back in time and check out a a little history. How did this company so endear itself to us? Maybe it was because, Das Auto had a sense of humour, which made us feel that, they were different from the others.

Way back in the late '30's (that's 1930's), that monster, Adolf Hitler, engaged Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) to design a "people's car", the original Beetle. An inexpensive and easy to maintain little car that, would enable the masses to have reliable transportation, as portrayed in this idyllic ad from 1939...........

But, we all know what happened next and this idea fell by the wayside, as the factories geared up to produce the machines of war. But in post war Germany, VW needed something to kick start their production lines and their sales. The answer was Porsche's Beetle. These ads show how this little car endeared itself to us..........

The tongue in check ads that, brought this little car into our hearts and driveways........

North America and just about everywhere else, loved their VW Beetles. Sales went wild and the war ravaged German industrial machine climbed out of the abyss. This product led to others that, became equally loved, such as the Golf or Rabbit, if you prefer. Same car, just different names at different times.

Not quite taking the place of the Beetle in folks' hearts, but becoming an extremely important car for Volkswagen, the Golf led to the first, of what would become known as "hot hatches", the GTI.......

........ a model that is still held up, decades later, as the benchmark for the category.

VW endeared themselves to us, with strange and whimsical versions of the Golf, like the unusual(?) Harlequin.........

I mean, think about it, what other company would have the nerve to produce a car painted like this one? A body shop's dream? And who in their right mind would drive such a car? Well, the answer, was not too many people, as they languished on dealers' lots. But VW took the risk.

From those post WW 2 ashes, arose a powerhouse that eventually encompassed Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda. A company that strove to pass GM and Toyota to be the biggest car company in the world. Goal achieved, as so far this year they have edged out Toyota for that number one spot.

Diesels became a backbone of the brand. Sure, this motor only accounted for about 20-25% of VW's sales in North America, but the words VW and diesel went together hand in hand. And after building thousands upon thousands of "dirty" diesels, in 2009 VW touted their new TDI as the clean diesel, even slapped this brag on the side of their 2009 Golf World Car of the Year..........

So what went wrong? How did this image and so called new technology, end up as this editorial cartoon published earlier this week?

Very good question. The obvious answer is that VW couldn't make a clean diesel motor, no matter how hard they tried. But, they could develop a computer program that, would sense if it was being tested (smart little computer) and lower the emissions. When it was not being tested, it spewed noxious fumes into the atmosphere like a factory in China. Well, maybe not that bad, but you get my drift. Big gamble, screwing with the US EPA. They bare their very long and sharp teeth quickly, if they perceive someone is obviously trying to cheat and deceive them and the American public. So, VW, stepped up to the plate and for a few years accomplished just that. Until an independent test saw that something was a foul.

Why, why, why? In my opinion, this type of decision was being made at the top echelons of VW corporate. This isn't the work of some anonymous little techie toiling away in the basement.

So the beloved VW brand has fallen on their sword. All that good will, gone in an instant. Along with billions of dollars and thousands of sales. Hurts everyone right down to the dealer level. A story like this has "legs", so it will besmirch the VW brand for years to come or forever (whatever that means).

Looking back, this VW ad from the early '60's was prophetic........

Let's see if they can use those humorous ads to get them out of this mess.

Until next time......

1 comment:

  1. Being involved in the service industry, I see the regulations tighten every year. In '91 particulate emissions was .5 grams/hp/hr. on industrial and .1 grams/hp/hr on highway. At that .5 wasn't even enough to call haze and .1 was five times less than that. Over the years, the manufacturers have had to drop it down more and more, to the point where they have to utilize particulate filters/traps to filter out the soot (if there was any left) and have the trap serviced periodically. The costs for these emission controls have surpassed the cost of producing the engine. Caterpillar got out of the automotive engine trade because it found out that the EPA was all but forcing the builders to produce engines that produced cleaner exhaust than the air going in. The situation has become more and more difficult for the manufacturers, and the costs are astronomical. The main problem: the EPA regulations are being dictated by people who don't know the difference between horse doo-doo and car exhaust. For the sake of getting re-elected, they're caving in to a bunch of Al Gore wannabes who are good at getting people stirred up. For every expert that's telling you the hole in the Ozone layer is getting larger, there's no real facts confirming that. But it's wreaking havoc on the automobile industry and that is also making the builders look for alternatives to maybe tweak things a bit; allow them to get a few more sales while they complete the task of pleasing the misinformed masses.

    Now I'm not going to justify VW for doing what it did--that was wrong, and it's going to cost them. But I don't think for one minute that VW was acting alone; VW happened to get caught. Period. I wouldn't be at all surprised if EVERYONE was dabbling in a little bit of treachery these days; in fact I'd be VERY surprised if no one else was. Something like this will just make everyone better at concealing the evidence.