Culture & Lifestyle / Where Does Volkswagen Currently Stand In The Automotive Industry?

Where Does Volkswagen Currently Stand In The Automotive Industry?

Culture & Lifestyle Oct 24, 2015

Known for its popular slogan "Das Auto," Volkswagen has been a German vehicle manufacturer for over 70 years and is the second-largest automaker company in the world, next to Toyota.

Volkswagen's latest media attention, however, is not about its vehicles. The trusted automaker was recently involved in an emissions scandal.

Dr. Arvind Thiruvengadam is a Chennai-born assistant professor at the West Virginia Centre for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions (CAFEE). His career and his love for cars have the professor often test-driving new vehicles and going for long car trips. When Dr. Thiruvengadam and his colleague, Marc Besch, decided to take a trip back in March 2013, he had no idea that his journey would be a "historical landmark in the automotive industry."

Dr. Arvind Thiruvengadam and Colleague Daniel Carder
Photo Credit: Hindustan Times

When the 32-year-old Indian engineer rented a Volkswagen Passat to test the vehicle during his 2,400-mile round trip between Los Angeles and Seattle, the emission levels were nothing less than startling. The NOx (mono-nitrogen oxide) levels of the Volkswagen were five to twenty times higher than the usual emission standards in Europe. 

After the researchers tested the emissions of three different European-make vehicles in real-world driving conditions, they found the same emissions levels with the Volkswagen Jetta, which showed 15 to 35 times higher than EPA standards. The third vehicle, a BMW X5, tested fine.

The pair's test results seemed to contradict the perfect and within-EPA-standards emissions levels that showed during Volkswagen's lab tests. Further investigations into the emissions levels variance found that Volkswagen was evidently cheating.

2015 Volkswagen Passat Engine
Photo Credit: Car And Driver

Equipped with this newly discovered information, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened an investigation into Volkswagen in May 2014. Their investigation attempted to replicate the West Virginia University results.

The Downfall of Volkswagen

Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the much-trusted automaker, announced his resignation on September 23, 2015. VW recalled 500,000 diesel-fuelled vehicles from the United States in December 2014 and a total of a million worldwide. Volkswagen faced potential bans of its diesel models. It may have to pay an $18 billion fine. The company's stock tumbled by almost 26 billion euros in market value in just five days. 

Volkswagen finally admitted that it was at fault and stated that it knowingly installed a "sophisticated software algorithm" that permitted the diesel vehicles to reduce the amount of NOx emissions while being tested. 

The future for diesel-fuelled vehicles and for Volkswagen as a company is definitely uncertain. The entire perception surrounding emission regulations around the world has changed. 

In an email interview with the Hindustan Times, Dr. Thiruvengadam stated, "Marc and I have done many real-world driving studies, and those are always exciting, because we get to visit a lot of places, but we least expected that the results would lead to the events that we are reading about in the newspaper today."

Main Image Photo Credit: ENCA

Nicole Singh

Nicole Singh


Nicole is a bilingual professional with a journalism background who adores everything to do with fashion, culture, and Bollywood. She always had a passion for writing since a young age and decided to follow that dream. She has a sense of working in the field through news publications writt...


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