Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty in connection with the emissions-rigging scandal. 

Volkswagen Group has been inundated by scandal since last September, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public that VW had been including illegal software in diesel Volkswagens and Audis. The software makes the car produce less harmful emissions during environmental testing, but on the road the emissions of toxic gases are 10 to 40% higher.
In a Detroit District Court, the 62-year-old engineer James Robert Liang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government, commit wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act. He said that he knew that VW had not disclosed the defeat devices to regulators those omissions allowed the company to receive approval  to sell the cars in the US.
According to the plea agreement, in 2006 Liang and others began building the EA 189 diesel engine that has been the center of the controversy. When the engineers realized they couldn’t meet consumer expectations and US air quality standards at the same time, they began looking into using illegal software (often known in the auto industry as a “defeat device”).
The Justice Department said the conspiracy began in November 2006, involved Jetta, Golf and other vehicles with model years between 2009 and 2015, and continued until the cheating was released in September 2015.
As a VW fan  I feel our loyalty, trust and enthusiasm for the brand have been betrayed. VW
did not need to go the wrong way to get more customers or to be number one. They had a long respectful and well known image for being honest and producing reliable cars. There was no need for fraud. In my country there is a tell that says that a liar falls faster than a lame and that is exactly what happened here. Their 5 years of show selling their "clean diesel" sham cars well destroyed the reputation of more than 70 years of trust.
Ethics are hard to mention here, there were not ethics involved, headquarters were careless about the consequences that their lie could bring to the public and their name. VW hunger for winning among the competition and become number one was more powerful than keeping the ethics and professionalism that got them to be recognized around the world.


  1. Sometimes, I feel as though these major companies are just trying to keep up with Demand the best way they can, and for some reason, VW believed this meant cutting corners and selling a false product. I am sure that this topic will be discussed in my future business and ethics class. I am looking forward to it.

  2. It was surprising to learn about Volkswagen’s emissions scandal at this same last year, September 2015; prior to that, they were trying to contain the scandal. It was even more surprising with my knowledge of the German work ethic, characterized by their industrious and hardworking nature. They are very ambitious and take business very seriously. Hofstede even illustrates this with Germany’s high score on the Masculinity index describing a society driven by competition, achievement, success—meaning being the best in the field. Taking short cuts is not the norm and almost incomprehensible. This scandal is uncharacteristic of the brand. VW has always slightly underperformed in US sales and has been investing massively in recent years to improve their popularity. Those efforts have unraveled and are only getting worse for them as this is the biggest scandal in their history, costing them billions of dollars in lawsuits and criminal charges. Even Porsche, their largest shareholder is being sued over this emissions scandal. Worst of all for VW, is the damage to the company’s once stellar reputation. Ally M.

  3. Purposely implementing software to defraud US emissions testing is illegal and unethical. Germany has a business culture similar to that of the United States. They are relatively individualistic and have low power distance. To act in this manner with the belief that the action would not be exposed is a high risk and does not make sense to the adept businessperson who works hard to climb the corporate ladder as they are charge of their success. The question is what compelled these individuals to engage in this act? Germany ranks high in transparency and not engaging in bribes. It appears this behavior is influenced by the organizational culture of Volkswagen. So when doing business with countries that appear similar and moral, a businessperson must take into account that the organizational culture may differ substantially.