​Has VW Put Its Transparency Efforts in Reverse?

Blog by Richard Chambers

When is an apology really an apology? When is contrition a reflection of true regret? When is a pledge for transparency more than just a hollow promise? These questions ran through my mind after learning of new Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller's media interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Mueller, who took over the troubled automaker shortly after VWs "dieselgate" scandal broke in September, has promised transparency and to "leave no stone unturned" in getting to the bottom of the scheme. Yet, there he was telling National Public Radio's Sonari Glinton that the scandal was a "technical" issue, despite earlier admissions that the automaker created sophisticated software designed to make its diesel vehicles appear to run cleaner in emissions tests than they do on the road.

I expressed my hope in an earlier blog that the newly appointed head of VW would stick to his commitment to win back the public trust. But his equivocating in the NPR interview concerns me. Mueller went further when he described the issues as a misinterpretation of American laws. Then he claimed VW did not lie when EPA regulators questioned the automaker before the issue went public.

"We didn't lie. We didn't understand the question first," Mueller told Glinton, according to a transcript of the interview posted on the NPR website.

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