DETROIT (March 18, 2016) — In the wake of Volkswagen A.G.'s emissions cheating scandal, government regulators around the world are intensifying their scrutiny of all auto makers.
You can blame VW, but everyone has to live with the consequences, and everyone has a role to play to improve the trustworthiness of the industry.
Senior executives at several companies say authorities have become more vigilant to ensure vehicles meet safety and health regulations, with a special emphasis on new-vehicle emissions testing.
An EPA spokesman told us that testing “in new and unpredictable ways is the new normal.”
That's because VW was caught equipping millions of diesel vehicles with so-called defeat devices. The vehicles were rigged to run at legal emissions levels only during testing, but otherwise spew harmful toxins up to 40 times above the limit.
For decades, auto makers have lobbied for more lenient safety and emissions regulations. Yet some have gamed the system — whether by seeking exemptions and waivers or unilaterally interpreting specific rules in their favor.
That era is ending.
In recent years, U.S. regulators have taken a more aggressive stance on environmental and safety rules and are imposing bigger fines on scofflaws. Agencies are less patient with violators and more willing to levy bigger fines for noncooperation or deceit.
The auto industry needs to change its approach. To have a place at the table when new rules are drawn, car makers must be cooperative, respect existing law and be willing to help draft future regulations.
Volkswagen's reckless deceit damaged the auto industry's credibility. Now all vehicle makers must play a role in repairing that damage.