Volkswagen did a very bad thing, using software to generate false results for emissions test. It will pay heavily for its crime, with the potential fine just for its US behaviour being estimated at $18bn.
That's before the EU starts to investigate the wider implications of a system of cheats which allowed VW to game the EU system to claim much emissions for its diesel cars than could be achieved on the road. Independent research suggests that these cars emitted up to 40 times the claimed levels of NOx and particulates when not under test.
With at least 11 million VW vehicles affected no wonder European cities are so full of smog. Who's to say that other manufacturers aren't pulling similar tricks? After all the nature of the standardized testing in Europe makes it fairly easy to detect when a vehicle is being tested and alter its responses accordingly.
There's a bigger story here that perhaps isn't getting the coverage that it should.
Diesel is a dirty fuel. It's not well suited for use in cars even with all the work that's been done to improve both performance and cleanliness its only trump card has been exceptional fuel economy figures.
Hybrid vehicles and all-electric vehicles have been the future for a number of years now, yet the illicitly-achieved claims of cleanliness and economy have prevented quicker adoption of a better solution to the offensive diesel.
The EU needs to fine VW heavily - a penalty of €5000 for each car sold would amount to a €55bn penalty. One which could be used to fund subsidies of EVs to those willing to try a better solution. There's been a
Volkswagen's share price has plummeted this week as the implications of the extent of the crime and the anger of the regulators at being duped so easily; become clear. That €7bn sum that VW set aside to deal with the fallout of this scandal looks a mere drop in the ocean of pain it will be swimming in for years to come.
With its market cap collapsing to the lowest it's been in four years could this make VW an acquisition target? An acquisition target for a company which has signaled its intent to enter the car market with an electric vehicle and has been courting other German auto makers to build them?
It certainly has the money to make it happen.