Fear of retaliation and unattainable goals: according to Bob Lutz, and others, the origin of the Dieselgate of Volkswagen

What has been the origin of the crisis TDI of the Volkswagen Group? According to Bob Lutz – former leader of General Motors and Chrysler – and the domestic sources of Volkswagen, was the corporate culture of the Volkswagen Group. A culture of fear, coupled with goals very challenging to achieve for teams of engineers. The fear of reprisals and layoffs would have caused the technical teams to seek “emergency solutions” to reduce emissions of CO2 and NOx in the eyes of the leaders of the Volkswagen Group.

Bob Lutz coincided in a revealing dinner with Ferdinand Piëch at the end of the 90’s.

Lutz and Piëch were always competitors at the highest corporate level, Lutz held top-level positions in Ford, Opel and BMW in Europe. They were old acquaintances. Bob Lutz coincided with Ferdinand Piëch few years ago, at a dinner of the industry in the late 90’s. Volkswagen had just presented the fourth generation of the Golf at the iaa in Frankfurt, one of the most successful in its history. The american congratulated the German by the product, praising especially the exterior finish, and how well adjusted they were the body panels.


When asked how he had gotten it, pining for something like that in Chrysler, received a reply. These are the words of Piëch:

“I’ll give you the recipe. I called all the body engineers, stamping people, manufacturing, and executives into my conference room. And I said, I am tired of all these lousy body fits. You have six weeks to achieve world-class body fits. I have all your names. If we do not have good body fits in six weeks, I will replace all of you. Thank you for your time today.”

Translated to Spanish:

“I’ll give You the recipe. I summoned all the engineers of the automobile, as well as to the people of stamping, fabricating and managers to a meeting in my conference room. I said, I’m sick of these settings so loose. You have six weeks to get endings at the highest level worldwide. I have your names. If you do not get, I will replace it all. Thanks for your time.”


The culture of fear and the fear of dismissal made to the engineers to meet the objectives set, even though it was on the basis of “patches”.

According to Bob Lutz, this was the corporate culture – high-level – in the Volkswagen Group. A reign of fear, of terror, “a dictatorship” in the words of the ex-u.s. steering. In addition, he asserts that Piëch had to know somehow of the existence of the defeat device discovered in 11 million engines turbodiesel, with the aim of misrepresent to the low engine emissions in the approval testing. Lutz does not stop there, and still loaded against the Volkswagen Group in his column in Road&Track.

Lutz believes that the same thing has happened with the offensive Clean Diesel in the united States. At some point, the engineers went to Piëch to express the inability to pass emissions testing with the current design, the costs established. “Pasadlas or I will find someone else to do it“, imagine Lutz that came out of the mouth of Piëch. And therefore believe that it ended this illegal software installed in eleven million engines. This is a part of the problem, the other is the fraud in the consumption and emissions of CO2.


Martin Winterkorn also would have continued the same style of leadership, authoritarian and threatening.

According to a report by Reuters on the basis of an article in the Bild am Sonntag German, the origin of this fraud would be the same. In the Hall of Geneva 2012, Martin Winterkorn stated that their cars would reduce their level of emissions of CO2 30% by 2015. It was discovered then that the engineers increased artificially the pressure of the tires and mixed the engine oil with diesel, with the goal of achieving figures approved artificially low in the approval testing of consumption/CO2.

The reason was that the objectives were too difficult to meet, and they were afraid of reprisals, of new. Finally, after the scandal of the emissions of oxides of nitrogen TDI, the engineers ended up confessing to the high instances of this fraud. The Volkswagen Group provisionaba 2,200 million euros extra to face the difficult solution of this problem. 800.000 vehicles – both diesel and gasoline – are affected in Europe. Both Winterkorn as Piëch are already sections of the Volkswagen Group.


The new CEO – Matthias Müller – aims to change this culture of leadership to convert the companies of the group in entities more transparent. Meanwhile, Reuters estimates that the total amount that would solve the problems of the Group, including compensations and claims, amounting to 35,000 million euros.

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