Why VW India emission scandal will eventually die

VW Emission Scandal

VW India denies any wrong-doing… May even get away with a paltry fine!

Following our earlier story on Volkswagen emission scandal, VW India recently took a complete ‘U-turn’ from its earlier stand; in which the company had reportedly admitted of exceeding emission levels by some of its cars in India. In a recent development, VW India has now denied rigging the emission standards in India; according to a report published in the Times of India. VW India has reportedly rejected the automotive testing & certification agency ARAI’s findings; which found the emission levels to be 5 to 9 times higher than the legal limits of some of VW branded cars when they were tested on the road. VW India has also clarified in a statement that their cars are NOT equipped with a ‘defeat device’ & that their cars are not violating the Bharat stage IV (BS IV) norms in India, as per TOI report.

The question remains: ‘Are the BS IV emission norms too frail to breach by companies?’ OR ‘Is VW India just passing off the buck?’ One thing is clear though: It looks like; either the company or the testing agency is not telling the complete truth…!

Fit it, Cheat with it & Forget it:

In India, it is comparatively easier to get away with the malpractice of this kind. Why? It’s simply because there are no ‘clear’ guidelines to implement the rules & regulations. Take an example of the matter related to a popular ‘noodles’ brand. The testing agency found the company to be using a certain ingredient above its legal limits in its product. However, they neither could pursue with it nor they could apply hefty fines. What the company did was a simple ‘recall’ of the affected batch of its product and it continues to sell.

VW India also seems to have taken the similar route. The company has offered a ‘voluntary recall’ of all the affected cars to offer an ‘update’ to its product; which; it claims, is ‘in-line with the latest technical updates’ on its diesel engine sold in Europe. In other words, the company will just get away from its greater responsibility of protecting the environment by simply accepting its ‘mistake’ & offering a ‘voluntary recall’. In India, such matters die very quickly; as there is no one to follow them any further.

It is quite strange that VW’s global CEO apologised unconditionally to its customers worldwide on this issue, especially to those in US & Europe.

However, in India, the company refuses to take any blame. Why such double standards & drama / ‘nautanki’? Only VW India would know…!

Fines & Punishments:

According to section 182(a) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, “whoever alters the construction of the vehicle without prior approval of the competent authority is punishable with a fine of Rs. 1000/- for the 1st offence and Rs. 5,000/- for any subsequent offence”. If you calculate this with the minimum rate of Rs. 1000/- per car X 3,20,000 no. of cars = Rs. 32,00,00,000/-, it would amount to approx. Rupees Thirty two Core in fines alone. Is it enough?

Ask yourselves; how many times in the past any company was fined. In 2013, there was a similar emission related issue with GM’s engines and the non-compliance of the norms. This resulted in GM halting the production and recalled 114,000 units of its Tavera. But this issue also died eventually; with the imposition of ‘some’ fine on company and subsequently forgotten. Similarly, VW India may also get away with paltry fine; just because it took the ‘self-punishment’ of the ‘voluntary recall’. Would the authorities really impose a fine on VW India as per rules? Only the time will tell; as, such paltry fines have little or no deterrence on the companies…!

What about the damage the excessive emission of VW cars has already caused to millions of lives & the heatedly debated issue of climate change; which is partly blamed to vehicle emissions?

Are you kidding? No one should really ask such questions… because they are simply ‘beyond the scope of’ the ‘rules & regulations’…!

What we failed to understand:

  1. If VW India has done ‘NOTHING WRONG’, then why is it recalling over 3 lakh vehicles after all?
  2. If authorities have found VW India to have violated the legal emission limits, why they are not taking a stern action immediately? What are they waiting for?
  3. What, if someone has bought a new VW branded car and the RTO fines him/her for high emission and issues a challan, then who should pay for it… The consumer, VW India or Govt. Of India?

The Aftermath:

On one hand, Indian people will lose faith in the testing agencies & authorities in the absence of a strong action on their part. We, the people of India, atleast expect that the authorities will make radical changes to the ‘rules & regulations’ and the amount of fine imposed, so that no company dares to violate them in future. On the other hand, VW India will not only lose its market-share to its rivals in future, but its credibility would also take a beating in India. Volkswagen brands VW India & Skoda have already fallen to the bottom positions of JD Power CSI 2015 – India Customer Service Index.

The consumer of India, today, is an informed person and makes decisions accordingly. In India, if people’s trust is broken; it does not pay. The Indian consumer would rather tolerate a bad quality product, service or an attitude but NOT someone or something; which they feel, has cheated them.

Many companies operating in India have learnt this the hard way. However; it seems, some companies have not yet learnt the lesson…!

We are sure that people of India are smart and will take a ‘correct’ decision while choosing their next car…!!!

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