Volkswagen AG is navigating the biggest business crisis in the company’s 78 year history due to the illegal use of software that rigged US diesel emission tests and admission that it sold 11 million cars worldwide equipped with the “defeat devices”.
Many observers, analysts and experts are now wondering – beyond the very obvious financial impact – what will happen with the namesake brand – at the heart of the massive dieselgate scandal. Naturally, every day that passes with VW not saying who is to blame and how vehicles would get fixed is another day that alienates the loyal customer base and makes those looking for a new vehicle dismiss the 12-brand group from its query. And more uncertainty is also a recipe for disaster for the customers that already have a Volkswagen vehicle and might want to sell it.
But certainly Volkswagen is not the first company in the automotive industry to fall from its “god-like” position – it’s the largest automaker in Europe and the second biggest in the world. And if history teaches us anything is that car companies have a high survivability factor – just remember the near past – Ford’s Firestone disaster, Toyota’s sudden acceleration debacle or GM’s ignition switch havoc.
What Volkswagen needs to do is get down “in the dirt” and study comprehensively those cases for lessons to be learned and applied to ensure its own future. While humbled, if proper action is taken, Volkswagen could endure the fallout from fines, bad publicity, lawsuits, penalties and in the end return to the task at hand – conquer the automotive world and deliver safer and better vehicles.