You have heard the expression “He can’t get out of his own way.” It’s used when someone (or some entity) makes one mistake after another, rendering itself unable to get out of their shadow of misdeeds. Lately, Volkswagen dominates the expression. You may want to remember Volkswagen for its cute Beetle. More likely, though, the picture of the perky little Beetle is obscured by a picture of VW officials apologizing for cheating on emissions tests. Now, more bad news about bad behavior out of Wolfsburg. This time, the company’s chief lobbyist find himself under fire. The fire was hot enough to claim his job. What did he do? He exposed monkeys to excessive exhaust fumes. What was that about not being able to get out of one’s way? This is what Gildshire knows so far.
His name is Thomas Steg. Until recently, Mr. Steg was an important part of Team VW. In an extraordinary example of poor judgment, Mr. Steg conducted an ill-fated test. He wanted to prove that diesel fumes belching from the back of a Volkswagen were safe to breathe. Two results came out of this scientific boondoggle. Monkeys were gassed and Thomas Steg was summarily allowed to “resign.” The German carmaker accepted a proposal by Steg himself that he step down from his post and assume full responsibility for the experiments that were revealed by the New York Times last week.
Research firm European Research Association for the Environment and Health in the Transport Sector — EUGT (since disbanded) actually performed the experiments, under Steg’s watchful eye. Since news of the testing became public Volkswagen called the testing “repulsive.” While other car companies, such as BMW and Daimler, owned up to using EUGT, no other company performed these kinds of tests. Steg was among a small group of people who worked closely with EUGT.
Time will tell what effect this latest scandal has on Volkswagen’s future. The company’s fortunes (and fortune) took a major hit as the result of the emissions’ scandal. Now a top aide is assisting in gassing monkeys.
What’s next? The folks at VW hope their skies are clearing. However, they may be hoping for clear skies slightly less than are the monkeys. As always, we will stay on top of the story. Until then, buyer beware.