VW diesel scandal: Germany’s politicians are deeply connected to the company image

The VW Group, the largest automaker in the world and biggest in Europe, has a strong political connection base – in part thanks to its important role in the reconstruction of West germany following the destruction of World War II.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been standing at arm’s length from the VW scandal over the company’s rigging of emissions in 11 million autos worldwide. Merkel, who was brought up under communism in East Germany, has mentioned that her first car following the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall was a VW Golf. And politicians keep it tight with VW because of jobs – about a third of the company’s workforce is in Germany and we don’t even have to mention all the suppliers. At Volkswagen political feelings are power-driven statues. The home state of Lower Saxony has a veto-force minority stake and occupies a supervisory board seat. Presidents, chancellors and cabinet minister have been connected one way or the other to VW. “It’ll be important for the German government to look at scenarios for the worst possible outcome,” comments Stefan Bratzel, chief of auto research at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.

This political “brotherhood” and the economic power residing at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg have made sure the “dieselgate” scandal has turned out a threat too serious for the German authorities to remain a neutral observer. Merkel so far has asked the automaker to come clean as quickly as possible. Her restraint is showcasing reluctance by her chancellery to directly influence private companies. Analysts and experts also point towards General Motors, with the US carmaker saved by the government in the wake of the financial crisis.

Via Automotive News Europe