Emissions Rigging

VW Scandal Damaging 'Made in Germany'

Volkswagen car crash. Source: Handelsblatt
The emissions scandal is a car crash for Volkswagen.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    In reporting incorrect emissions figures, VW has harmed its own image, and Germany’s reputation for reliability.

  • Facts


    • The emissions-fixing scandal affects 11 million VW vehicles worldwide.
    • VW could face a penalty of up to $18 billion (€16.2 billion) in the United States.
    • Past scandals that have eroded confidence in the “Made in Germany” brand have involved companies like Daimler and truck maker MAN.
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Companies, German trade bodies and politicians have worked for years to protect the “Made in Germany” mark of quality and uphold it abroad. They had been succeeding. German companies are proud of the designation “Made in Germany.” It was once used as a derogatory term for low-quality products, but is now a signifier of quality and reliability.

From negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States to forays by the European Union, companies are vehemently defending their right to advertise the fact that products are manufactured in Germany, even when a product was only assembled in Germany.

But corporate scandals like the current VW affair are jeopardizing the strength of the “Made in Germany” brand. These scandals erupt suddently, without warning, and no one knows at first how substantial the damage will eventually be. Be it the corruption affair at the Siemens industrial group or the bribery scandals at automaker Daimler and truck manufacturer MAN, these examples of worst practices always have the potential to cast all German companies in an unfavorable light.

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