DETROIT — The diesel disaster, made public two years ago this month, has done more to move electric cars front and center than anything I can imagine.
Although Volkswagen A.G. is getting the brunt of the blame — along with billions of dollars in fines and lawsuits that are a long way from being wrapped up — one nagging issue remains: In this multinational, multicompany emissions cheating scandal, no one is admitting to holding a smoking gun.
Legal culpability is a tricky matter. Yet it is hard to see how supplier Robert Bosch would bear no responsibility for the alleged illicit actions of some of its auto maker customers if those actions could not have occurred without Bosch software technology.
There seems to be so much silence on the part of so many companies that getting to the root of this deception will be impossible. That may be the intention.
When you add all the jurisdictions around the world to the technical questions, it clouds the issue even further.
• This column appeared in the Sept. 25 print edition of Tire Business.
Each country has its own agency or agencies fighting for legal authority. I get the feeling that they are more interested in legal fame and fortune than in assessing blame.
And, as if it were possible to figure out just how high up responsibility went, the chances of ever finding out who simply said, "Yes, do it," would seem to be slim and none.
Just like finding out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, this is probably a mystery that never will be solved.
As more and more situations exist where the problem crosses many international borders, it will become increasingly difficult either to enforce or prosecute misdeeds. There are simply too many enforcers and too many prosecutors to assess responsibility.
Meanwhile, VW is getting the lion's share of the blame for its misdeeds. This is by no means the last mistake that a car company or supplier will make. Chances are that in the future, we won't find the culprit.
In the meantime, auto makers continue to abandon diesels and commit big chunks of their future product portfolios to EVs.
Mr. Crain is chairman of Crain Communications Inc., parent company of Tire Business, and is editor-in-chief of Detroit-based Automotive News.