Sunday, 6 December 2015

How VW were not so ethical

Ethics can be described as the moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity. Something that VW clearly hasn’t been aware of in recent times!

As we all know VW haven’t been portrayed in the best light since earlier this year in September when the emissions scandal was brought to light. VW had been selling cars that were up to 40 times over the emissions limit in the US and also in Europe. But how did they get through the tests that all cars must undergo before they go on sale to the general public? Well they had fitted the cars with software that made the cars able to sense test scenarios by monitoring speed, engine operation, air pressure and even the position of the steering wheel. When the software realised it was in test mode it almost put the car in a safety mode that reduced its engine power and performance. Then when the software knew it was out on the road these settings were turned off.

So VW had nowhere to hide when this was discovered, as it was a clear and deliberate plot to deceive consumers and regulators!

The fundamental principles of business ethics can be categorised into 5 areas
·         Professional behaviour
·         Integrity
·         Professional competence and due care
·         Confidentiality
·         Objectivity

Somehow VW managed to go against every area of ethical behaviour as much as they could; almost as though they were trying to be as unethical as possible.

Directly after the incident VW boss Michael Horn stated that they had “totally screwed up” and Mr Winkertone (Was the CEO) said that they had “broken the trust of our customers and the public.” Both statements very true, but you can only help feeling that this is far too little far too late on this occasion.

The question is, how will VW be able to recover from such a scandal and will their reputation ever be the same again?

VW’s first action was to put aside £4.8bn to cover the costs of the car recalls; however this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how VW will be negatively impacted by this scandal. They could be fined up to $18bn by the EPA, as they have the power to fine VW $37,500 for each car that they have sold that is affected by the issue.

I think that the most noticeable issue that has arisen from this scandal is the ease that VW were willing to lie to its customers and the general public. If they were willing to lie about this then what else are other companies lying to us about? How far are organisations willing to go just to have better profit margins? Surely it will not be long until a company purposefully cuts costs that could potentially put people’s lives at risk. We have already seen it with the brake failure scandal at Toyota, so how long is it before something like this happens again on a larger scale? Just something to think about...

If you have any additional comments to make, then feel free to do so!