NEARLY 12,000 Irish people bought a Volkswagen car last year and, in the light of the emissions scandal that has already cost the German car manufacturer €24bn — another €6.5bn has been set aside for initial compensation and penalties — every one of those must wonder if they can rely on the company’s claims and promises about their new cars.
The company has admitted cheating during diesel vehicle emissions tests in the US and says that around 11m vehicles around the world may be implicated. This shows an indifference to their customers and countries’ efforts to manage air pollution that is staggering and callous.
It represents another example of how international corporations seem to imagine themselves above national laws and answerable only to their shareholders. That the company should describe suggestions that its chief executive Martin Winterkorn was to be replaced in the wake of the scandal as “nonsense” is another example of absolutely unacceptable corporate hubris.
The scandal has a particular resonance in Ireland as our car taxation regime is based on a car’s emissions — the more toxic the exhaust fumes the more a car owner must pay in road tax. If it was established that Volkswagen knowingly cheated Irish car owners and tax collection authorities, then we would be in uncharted territory. This seems an unconscionable breach of trust.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved