Volkswagen case is, for all purposes, the utter failure of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is no possible palliative: we are talking about a conscious manipulation, known by all company levels, intentionally designed to get a competitiveness plus to face up the strength of other competitors, that got the best “eco” Think Blue Industrial leadership worldwide while it is advertised as an ecological and on the other hand the planet is being overpoisoned with 40% more NOx emisions.
A total lack of ethics in engineering, which has already led to the resignation of not only the CEO of the company, but also positions as the head of R&D in charge of Audi or Porsche engines, which can reach more brands and that leaves only clear evidence: it is quite impossible that the CSR department knew nothing of all this. The chain of command leading from the development of software lines that established the condition that put the vehicle in test mode emissions and they returned to circulation mode, the “dirty mode” when the test ended are fully audited, and fully documented internal testing: all responsibilities can be traced, and no longer cover the whole company, but the entire group. A demonstration that the only way to do software is open, anyone can inspect the code: software has become the true weakness beyond the control.
We speak of an engine, something quite tangible, not an interpretation or a shade. An engine emitting more pollution than forty times what he owed, and a brand camouflage consciously decided to dissemble when they underwent tests. Neither the management of CSR dumbest in the world could claim that he knew nothing about: o not be credible, or prove that their work was meaningless and in fact was a simple tactic of advertising distraction, a stupid one in section actually it is read and only serves to decorate the corporate memory.
That, is fearly the great reality: the vast majority of companies, CSR is reduced to put a manager, usually with a certain aura of respectability, in charge of a department that is dedicated to just whitewash responsibilities, just make things look nice over all, although in reality they are as far from it as in the present case. In an outpouring of ingenuity, we have deceived pretending that companies might be able to regulate themselves and take responsibility for its CSR practices, when the stubborn reality showed clearly that all its actions, except the purely symbolic, were geared solely to maximizing benefit by all possible means.
Volkswagen decided fully aware that no matter how poison the planet issuing forty times more nitrogen oxides than the amount legally permitted, if doing so managed to position itself as the first car brand in the world. Simply it did not matter. The parallels with the tobacco industry are impressive, and settle on a sadly solid social base: the same way that many smokers were willing to believe that actually snuff inhaling was not as harmful, millions of drivers now prefer to consciously issuing a the atmosphere gases clearly harmful to all provided that does not worsen the acceleration of your vehicle. That, and no other, is now the concern of the vast majority of the owners of a diesel Volkswagen: “I’ll have to take my car to check and as a result you will lose benefits? For as not force me, I do not take”. While the most serious problem, poisoning the planet and its inhabitants, is something not directly see, that is not tangible and not have to touch us directly to us, the fall in the performance of our car is something we notice every time out of a traffic light, and is a price that, incredibly and completely irrational, are not willing to pay. We prefer the evidence of power in the accelerator to what we consider a distant hypothesis of deaths from respiratory diseases and degraded planet to the limit. Beyond ask whether Volkswagen is “too big to fail” or if there are more brands involved, we must face this reality: the CRS is not working.
Actually, the problem of CSR is that: ask about companies that self-regulation and a management to behave as if above the social reality. We have done something very wrong when the common man sees CSR as something dispensable, superfluous, as a set of good wishes prevail only when they do not interfere with the economic benefits or the delicious feeling back that sticks to the back of seat when we step on the pedal to the table. The way companies have managed CSR so far makes its leaders in a kind of sanctimonious to which, in fact, is put in place only to make nice, and that, in any conflict of interest, just enough to remind them who pays his salary.
The Volkswagen case is proof that CSR must reinvent itself from its base. Schemes must be fully traceable responsibility to ensure that those responsible will end directly to jail when certain issues are infringed. They will have to become highly paid positions because of the responsibilities they have to assume, and budget to develop appropriate schemes to find out all the details of what happens in some companies that have proven to be responsible enough to control themselves.
The crisis of Volkswagen evidence of the failure of capitalism, such a fool as to try to dilute the responsibilities and close our eyes to the reality of a future system – or a present – clearly unsustainable.
If you are a manager of CSR, the least we should do to see the Volkswagen case is not thinking how you’re being so stupid, so blind or so shameless as your colleague Volkswagen. Are you in your office just to “make things look pretty, but they are not”? Are you willing to lie, to dress, to makeup or even kill people in exchange for a slightly more substantial benefit? What comes first in your scale of values, sustainability of your company or the planet? What is more important, a few thousand deaths from respiratory diseases or cancer, or the throne of the world of automotive industry?
CSR has failed. The Volkswagen case evidence is so important, so glaring and so brutal that should lead all companies to review their priorities and rethink operation of that department. Overthinking if something could happen in your business, because it is very possible that they are as sad as a thundering yes. Your company is so willing to cheat, lie and kill people in exchange for a business benefit as it has been Volkswagen. That their managers are actually CSR as irresponsible as the German brand. If that is not enough to consider that they are doing something very, very wrong … better cleave figuratively shot. It will be a social, corporate and well used responsibly bullet. We live in the era of software. More and more things are controlled by software, and that, in principle, is great. A software-controlled vehicle is much more efficient than one that is not. But also introduces new and unexpected possibilities.
The computer or older systems were simple and easy to repair, but very rigid: carburetor adjusted the fuel and air mixture to optimize the speed that the car had a linear fashion, and the dealer could not change the timing of detonations predefined came. So the regulations had to be set to operate in all regimes of engine acceleration and therefore were not optimal for either. The consequences: increased consumption, increased pollution and lower power.
The arcades of the bars are controlled by software, the temptation is obviously cheat them, and the industry has been able to control is not done. Why in something that depends on the health of millions of people they have not established such controls?
All diesel vehicles of the Jetta, Golf and Beetle models between 2009 and 2014, 2014 and 2015 Passat and the Audi A3 between 2009 and 2015
Tests done by real movement in various conditions, the doubts arise when results were found. The tests were made by a NGO, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), and detect inconsistencies, contacted the Environment Agency (EPA)
Enter a software program in the ECU (Engine Control Unit) which detects the conditions of the test. It’s like “tune” the computer. And it is not an “accident” is something completely premeditated.
Diesel vehicles NOx adjust the amount of driving air in the fuel mixture controlled by software. The problem is to adjust those emissions decreases engine performance.
Volkswagen had a cheaper two-liter engine that exceeded the performance of the rest of the industry, including its leader, Toyota. The two-liter engine Volkswagen had better performance than equivalent 2.2-liter engines from brands like Honda or Toyota. In fact, he managed to wrest the throne Toyota mid-year 2015. But then, how do you get it? Easy: 40 times more polluting !!
Now, Volkswagen will have to do without cost at least half a million vehicles in the United States, with the cost that this entails, and face fines if they are calculated according to the amount per vehicle, reach 18 billion dollars.
But it’s worse: the owners of vehicles as those vehicles would suddenly worsen their performance, and apparently to have, among other things, worse acceleration.
The maneuver involves:
- The complaint and fines of Environment Agency
- The Department of Health complaint by threatening public health
- The Commerce Department complaint because those vehicles had not specified performance
- The complaint of the Department of Justice for criminal behavior
- Research in any number of countries
- Collective complaints by associations of investors and owners of vehicles
- Removing vehicles dealers
- Brutal impact on the reputation of the brand and the entire German industry
- Usually tons of NOx emitted by half a million vehicles in the US: a souped 1000. As have issued 10,000 to 40,000.
Extrapolating to the 11 million vehicles worldwide, the total amount emitted is between 250,000 and one million tons per year !!
The largest power plant in Europe emits 40,000 annually. An amount of one million tons is equivalent to the amount emitted by all power plants, the whole industry, all vehicles and all agriculture in a country like the UK.
Much more serious in Europe than in the USA, by the much higher number of diesel vehicles.
NOx is responsible for inflammation in the airways, asthma, and other respiratory and heart disease, especially for combination with other components of pollution. Some estimates put about 9,500 premature deaths in the incidence of high levels of NOx in a city like London.
It is undoubtedly the biggest scandal and the worst case in the history of the automotive industry.
Losses of more than 20% of its market valuation on the first day, and another 20% in the second, over 30,000 million euros. Only Qatar Sovereign Fund, one of the largest shareholders of the company, has lost 5,000 million in two days. The CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has resigned. For the German economy, it is a greater impact than all the Greek crisis.
It is destined to become a case study on CSR = Corporate Social Responsibility (or rather, lack of it)