To quote a certain Mr. Han Solo, “sometimes I amaze even myself.” Just last month I proposed an admittedly outlandish theory that the Volkswagen engineering scandal was in fact not authorized by VW’s top brass, and was instead the isolated decision of a small team of frustrated engineers:
What if the engineers had no choice? What if VW was pressuring them to such a degree — with threat of losing their jobs even? — to solve the emissions trap mechanism that, in a last ditch effort of frustration with what was apparently a physically impossible engineering task to begin with, they basically threw their collective hands up in the air and said “Scheiße! This is impossible, it cannot be done … ok screw it, let’s just fake it.”
Isn’t it at least within the realm of possibility that VW executives did not in fact know what was going on, and it was merely out of an act of desperation under threat of losing their jobs that the engineers finally just caved in and did whatever they could?
Isn’t it possible that the engineers simply cheated to appease a totally irrational demand by VW and to keep their jobs?
Incredibly, VW has just confessed that this is indeed precisely what happened:
As reported by Autoblog just an hour ago today, engineers at Volkswagen have just confessed to cheating on the results because the emissions goals demanded by ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn were simply impossible to achieve, but they didn’t want to admit failure.
The target goal was a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2006 levels, and apparently it was simply impossible to achieve this number. Rather than fail with their tail between their legs, a small team of engineers banded together and decided to hack their way to feigned success: they over-inflated tire pressures and mixed engine oil with diesel in an effort to cheat the emissions testing.
This is a startling, mind-blowing revelation which on the one hand, at least theoretically seems to exonerate VW’s executive team, while on the other, still leaves open the question of whether the executives should have known this was — or could be — happening: put another way, they should have never demanded such impossible goals if in fact they knew — or should have known — they were impossible.
It would appear Elon Musk was right when he boldly claimed “What Volkswagen is really showing is that we’ve reached the limit of what’s possible with diesel and gasoline. The time has come to move to a new generation of technology.”
Now of course, a burning question still remains: did VW execs pay off these engineers to make such a confession just to save their own skins? Only time will tell.
We’ll update as we get more information, but for now, I’m still reeling in disbelief at having accurately called it.