Volkswagen – Death By 1000 Cuts

A slow and painful way to destroy a reputation

When the Volkswagen scandal first broke we specifically told several publications that the automaker needs to avoid a “death by 1000 cuts” scenario wherein bad news comes out bit by bit, re-igniting the public’s attention each time.

Well, if you’ve been following the story at all it’s clear that VW hasn’t avoided that scenario one bit, and now the latest slice has been carved out by the announcement of yet more emissions-cheating software being found. A new six-page report from the Environmental Protection Agency points the finger at specific models under the Porsche brand, which is also produced by Volkswagen, describing in detail a mechanism believed to be intentionally constructed to defeat emissions testing.

To us, VW’s response came across more as an afterthought than anything carrying weight, and considering the repeated revelations of wrongdoing isn’t being given any credence by stakeholders:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft on Monday that vehicles with V6 TDI engines had a software function which had not been adequately described in the application process. Volkswagen AG wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.

Volkswagen will cooperate fully with the EPA clarify this matter in its entirety.

Coming right out and admitting fully to wrongdoing is painful. It’s also highly effective. Volkswagen seems determined to force each little piece to be dragged out, and that approach is bringing the reputation damage any crisis management pro worth their salt could easily predict.

The BCM Blogging Team
www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com

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