Arjan van Weele
prof. dr. Arjan van Weele


September 17 2015 00:00

Volkswagen Gate or Automotive Gate



VW's fraud with engine management software could be the tip of the iceberg. Why do car manufacturers consistently cheat on fuel consumption figures of their cars? And why do we as consumers accept that?

We all are aware by now on what happened at Volkswagen. This leader of  the carindustry installed software in some of their dieselengines to manipulate car tests ie. fuel consumption tests. The problem seems limited to the US. The problem seems also limited to some models i.e. the Passat, Jetta, Beetle. Investigations in other markets and for other VW cars are underway. No doubt this affair will spin off similar investigations for other car brands in other countries. Such investigations in my view are badly needed.

Car buyers have been consistently cheated fo many years by the car industry. And certifying bodies in most countries allowed them to do that. Car journalists have never been critical towards the fact that fuel consumption figures of all cars for all brands have been exaggerated. Being a frequent reader of car magazines (like Autoweek, Autovisie (NL) and Auto, Motor und Sport (D)) I always have been amazed about the large differences between average fuel consumption figures as listed in car brochures and those of the car magazines. Having driven many cars, I never ever made it to the car manufacturers figures. Most times I came close or did even better than the figures reported by the car magazines. I guess you as a reader has similar experiences. Few car journalists elicited criticism on this practice. Probably because they would not like to become unpopular at the car manufacturers they drive their cars from.

The certifying bodies, that are responsible for the approval of new car models and certification, have been consistently misled. And car manufacturers were able to do so because of the apparent lack of knowledge and ethics at these governmental institutions, who never ever entered into this debate. In some cases tests by certifying bodies have been purposefully manipulated by testing cars that were specially prepared (different tires, wrapping spaces between body parts, etc.) to promote more efficient fuel consumption.

And we as consumers have been aware of this but never objected or legally claimed car manufacturers for their unjustified figures on fuel consumption. What would you normally do if you buy a product that does not perform or that not even comes close to the promise made by the seller? The car industry still got away easy on this issue.

I am afraid that VW gate is just the tip of the iceberg. I may certainly hope that this  affair will lead to more transparency and more honesty in the way we as consumers are being treated. I want to pay for a product that delivers its promises. I guess you as a reader agree!




prof. dr. Arjan van Weele
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