Volkswagen merely engaged in some ‘well-intentioned and harmless cheating’ says Jeremy Clarkson as the “Dieselgate” emissions scandal / saga continues.
Clarkson, who took time out from working on his new Amazon motoring show, has come to the defence of Volkswagen, who is currently currently embroiled in a scandal over its diesel-engine emissions tests. Last week news emerged that the company manufactured some 11-million cars around the world that were fitted with a defeat device that could detect when the car was being emissions tested and automatically dial the engine down in order to meet the output requirements.
According to Clarkson, the company’s senior management should “stop wringing their hands and sweating in press conferences and go on the attack.”
According to his column in The Sunday Times, Jeremy thinks the whole issue has come about due to “eco-mentalists” telling people first that diesel engines were cleaner than other engines, before changing their minds and drawing attention to the damaging properties of the blend of nitrogen and oxygen – or NOX – the engines produced. Various “soft-in-the-head governments” listened to those critiques and introduced new regulations on how much NOX a car could produce, Clarkson notes.
New emissions rules and regulations left VW with no choice but to redesign its engines, but then went further and “fitted its engines with a clever bit of software that exaggerated their economy and cleanliness when they were being tested.”
According to Clarkson, the trick is no different to everyday deceptions like lying on a CV or parking on double yellow lines. He also sees the huge risk to other car makers (and Europe as a whole) if VW are “driven into the wilderness” by lawsuits, fines and damage to the company’s reputation and sales – because if VW goes out of business “the fallout would be immense because it owns Audi, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda as well. So they’d also go to the wall. And without the profits from these engineering powerhouses Germany would no longer be in a position to bail out the Greeks or house half of Syria. Which would cause global economic collapse, a humanitarian catastrophe and many plagues.”
Clarkson says that in his view what the company has done simply isn’t that bad, so the punishment does not fit the crime.
“Put simply, then, Volkswagen looked at a set of arbitrary figures that had been dreamt up by a bunch of ill-informed, woolly-headed government officials and chose to ignore them. We are not talking about thalidomide here. Or Bhopal. It’s just a bit of good-natured rule-bending, and we all do that.”
Clarkson goes on to suggest the whole issue is “rubbish” because “about 60 per cent of man-made NOX emissions do not come from road transport, and of the 40 per cent that do, the vast majority are from lorries and buses. So in the big scheme of things, your neighbour’s Golf diesel makes no discernible difference.”
Clarkson’s claims on issues relating to pollution and “eco-mentalists” have been frequently rejected by scientists and campaigners in the past. Bill McGuire, professor of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL described the presenter’s Sunday Times columns as “barely coherent products of Clarkson’s own fevered imagination”.
Regardless of who you agree with, Clarkson’s view on VW’s “well-intentioned and harmless cheating” sits in stark contrast with the official position of the governments of the US, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Italy, France, South Korea, Canada, Norway and India – countries where investigations and legal proceedings are now under way.