Every week it seems there’s another new development regarding VW and its recall trouble. Most all of these developments, whether about additional software issues or expansion of the models effected, have been bad news for the company. The latest update appears to represent a change from that pattern, good news VW, though how this could impact consumers remains to be determined.
The latest news concerns the costs of the emissions recall. Previously, experts said that the recall would cost untold billions and prove destructive to the company’s bottom line. Though the total will still be in the billions, the executives can breathe a little easier as estimates are the repairs will prove less expensive than expected. In particular, an estimate was done concerning the cost of recalls in Germany. VW is said to now save close to $3 billion thanks to a very cheap hardware fix.
The new plan for fixing the 2.4 million impacted diesel vehicles in Germany calls for installing a $10 sensor in the air filter and a relatively simple software update. Analysts say the advent of the cheap sensor is responsible for saving potentially billions of dollars. Whether the same simple fix will be applied to the millions of other vehicles that could be swept up in the recall remains to be seen.
Though the cheap fix is certainly good news for VW, some consumer rights advocates say they worry that a “cheap” fix could make matters worse for consumers. After all, taking the easiest way out often involves cutting corners, exactly the kind of thing that got VW into this mess in the first place. A cheap fix that fails to properly address the issue will leave consumers with dangerously polluting cars. Additionally, a cheap fix may encourage a further drop in resale prices, something that has already hit drivers’ wallets by thousands of dollars per vehicle. Rather than try and find the cheapest way out, VW should be required to take its time and address the problems that it created fully. Consumers deserve to be made whole, regardless of how that may hurt VW’s bottom line.
By way of background, the issue in this case concerns VW’s decision to cut corners when it comes to emissions testing. Engineers at the car company created a bit of software that was able to detect when it was being subjected to emissions testing. When the car was being tested, the software would turn on pollution controls, making the vehicle appear vastly more environmentally friendly than it is. When the car wasn’t being tested these controls turned off, releasing dangerous pollutants into the air.