Ever since the Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emission tests, they had to face an immediate backlash from the society and the environmental agencies throughout the world. The entire position of the auto giant is in jeopardy as its shares have plunged and its image has been possible tarnished beyond repair. But, still many people are happy with their Volkswagens since they give excellent mileages while the Environmental Protection Agency is screaming for blood. Despite what people may say, the move by Volkswagen was not only unethical and unlawful, it cost the environment dearly, and no matter how much fine VW pays for it, the damage is irreversible. But just how much did it suffer?
The total number of rigged emission cars stands at a staggering 11 million. It means that 11 million exhaust pipes have been releasing 10-100 times more emissions than allowed straight into the environment and the company would have gotten away with it if International Council on Clean Transportation hadn’t found out about it in a random emission test on a VW Jetta. It was discovered that the car released NOx emissions as much as 35 times when they weren’t subjected to emission tests. VW initially denied the corporate involvement, but recalled over half a million cars back, but the problem had been discovered, and everybody was talking about it and testing cars. It was only then that the company came clean and confessed that it had systematically rigged the emission system to activate controls only when it was being tested by competent authorities.
In a very detailed study, MIT researcher Stephen Barrett and his colleagues revealed the extent of damages being faced by the public because of this manoeuvre. It was also later published in the pages of the Environmental Research Letter as well. It arrives at the conclusion that approximately 59 lives were cut short, and 450 million dollar damage was done to the environment. Although this figure is much smaller than the fine expected to be levied against Volkswagen, the number of lives lost is startling and may result in a much heavier fine and curbs on the German automaker. The paper also claimed that converting all of the cars back to allowed emission levels will result in 840 million $ saved and 130 early deaths avoided.
Barrett’s study echoes the previous research conducted by other organizations, and it becomes increasingly clear that the company will have to face a heavy penalty at the end of the criminal trial it is currently facing. However, the EPA is undecided about the amount of illegal emissions being released and therefore, it will compile its own report shortly. But, as we have previously stated, the company shouldn’t be brought down to its knees because of this scandal as 95% of its employees had no part to play in it. I suggest that a hefty fine be placed and only the people directly responsible to brought to justice. Volkswagen is a famous company, and it will be in everyone’s interests that the company continues to remain in the competition.