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Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Spreads To Porsche and Audi 494

New submitter sumanareddyraval writes: The fallout from the Volkswagen diesel scandal is spreading fast to the company's other famous brands, including Porsche and Audi, and across the Atlantic to the U.S. The scandal reached down into the company's engineering corps as the CEO of Volkswagen's US business, the research and development chief from Audi and the engine chief from Porsche, which are part of the Volkswagen Group, are said to be following Volkswagen's CEO out the door of the company, according to multiple reports Thursday. The impending departures are a sign that the Volkswagen scandal is ready to grow to much larger proportions.
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Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Spreads To Porsche and Audi

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  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:03AM (#50596043)
    Hiding car emissions was not done by a couple of people. A large number in the people inside these companies were involved in pulling it off.
    • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:11AM (#50596085)

      That depends if the low emission mode was already coded and used in some other circumstances. If for example the engine enters that mode after idling for 30s. It could be relatively simple for one or two programmers to include a simple check that detected the dynamo scenario and put the engine into that mode, it would almost certainly be possible to obfuscate what's going on so a casual review wouldn't detect it.

      Do I think that's what happened? No. Lone coders don't go off the rails that far without direction from above. If nothing else, it's doubtful the software engineers were directly aware of the emissions problem without anyone else being in the loop. But it is at least theoretically possible.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        No it can't. Read the reports would you. People would need to know for this to happen. This was not the work of one lone rogue employee.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Try reading his whole post; that's pretty much precisely what he said he believes. He is just pointing out what is possible.

      • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:38AM (#50596279)
        Theoretically possible perhaps, but what incentive would "lone wolf" coders have for making the mechanical engineers look good? Even if the mechanical engineers who designed the engine and pollution control systems didn't know about the code changes, they should have had a good idea of what the approximate test results should have been, and if they were way better than expected it should have raised major red flags. Same goes for QA. Even if the change wasn't caught in a code review, the too-good-to-be-true results alone should have raised questions. I bet lots of people knew about this and either didn't want to risk their jobs by asking about it or were told "don't worry about it, it's a decision made above your pay grade". Unfortunately, we live in a world that demonizes whistle-blowers.
        • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @10:12AM (#50596603)

          I work in production test. It is a constant battle with people who should know better trying to ship things that shouldn't be shipped.

          I could absolutely imagine a scenario where someone comes up to an engineer says "we pass emissions in this scenario, but not these others" and then pushing, cajoling, even threatening that guy into "bending the rules" and "making things work" so they can start shipping. How much does the average car factory lose for each hour of downtime? Even more likely if the issue is a fundamental flaw that will cost millions to fix. All it takes a couple guys trying to be heroes or save their jobs.

          Again, I'm not saying that's what I think happened, especially in light of how widespread the issue appears to be and how fast executives are jumping out with their golden chutes. But I do work in a similar industry in a similar capacity, depending on how the internal culture it would be easy for one or two people to make this happen.

  • BMW also... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:04AM (#50596051)
    BMW engines were emitting nitrogen oxide levels that were 11 times more than the current limit set by the European Union. However, it later reported that there was no indication of tampering with the vehicles. Citing road tests by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), it said that a model of the BMW X3 was emitting more poisonous gases than the Volkswagen car that is currently at the center of the emissions scandal. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/24... [cnbc.com]
    • Re:BMW also... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:51AM (#50596409) Homepage Journal

      BMW engines were emitting nitrogen oxide levels that were 11 times more than the current limit set by the European Union. However, it later reported that there was no indication of tampering with the vehicles.

      All that means is that they can't prove BMW was cheating the tests while treating the PCM like a 'black box'. VW just cheated so bad, there was no hiding it. The "revelation" is going to be that all manufacturers detect the test regime and do their best to meet emissions standards during it, while at other times they play a little loose, usually to improve mileage.

      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @11:28AM (#50597351)
        If cheating is as widespread as you allege I have a sneaking suspicion that European diesel cars are going to fall out of favor as performance drops dramatically. It's a damn shame that they did this, for a long time I was disappointed that so many of the diesel options in Europe weren't available in the US, but if they were breaking the law to put them on the road then I won't feel so bad about it anymore.
  • The penalties and lawsuits will quickly exceed VW's $126bn valuation.

    • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:20AM (#50596153)

      The really sad thing is that I have seen a lot of people, in a lot of places, suggest punishments in the extreme.

      "Ban them from selling cars here for 5 years"

      "Require them to buy back every car at the full sales price"

      And so on. At some point you just bankrupt the company, which is stupid, it'll put millions of people out of work, destroy a lot of wealth, and then when it files for bankruptcy, it won't be able to fix the cars in the first place.

      Do you want vengeance (against millions of people who didn't do anything), or do you want solutions?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        It's not an American company, so of course they want it destroyed. VW make better cars than American companies. NSA really needs to step up its efforts on that front.
        • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:51AM (#50596407)

          Do they? Frankly I have found the quality of Ford vehicles to have jumped leaps and bounds over 10 years ago. Their decision to start bringing in their European designs shows.

          GM isn't there yet, but they are making progress. The stuff they build today is also better than it used to be.

          The irony is the real fall off in quality is Japan. Toyota and Honda aren't what they used to be.

          • US car companies were kept afloat after 2008 with large amounts of government cash gifts. Maybe Europe will do the same here?
            • VW makes hundreds of thousands of cars right here in the US. VW dealerships employ a lot of people and are owned by some wealthy people.

              Give it some time for the headlines to pass, then the lobbying to limit the damage will start.

              VW is not just a German company, they have a lot of roots in the US as well, you'll hurt American workers if you kick them too hard.

              The issues in 2008 were not of the car companies making, thus the help. Same reason, you can't let GM go bankrupt, you just can't.

              Of course, that al

        • by b0bby ( 201198 )

          VW make better cars than American companies.

          Umm, JD Powers disagrees:
          http://www.jdpower.com/press-r... [jdpower.com]

          Anecdotally, everyone I know with VWs have had plenty of annoying problems. Ford & GM, not so many. I am surprised that VW comes in even worse than Chrysler, though.

          My theory is that a lot of European manufacturers just don't fully understand just how much Americans drive. In addition to having almost twice as many vehicles per capita than the EU (any statistics that say otherwise are probably excluding light trucks in the US numbers), each of th

          • by jafac ( 1449 )

            Much of the stuff that breaks on VW's breaks independent of mileage. For example: a Dual Mass Flywheel should NOT break after 30000 (mostly highway) miles. (compare that to a single-mass flywheel; which will basically last forever, because it's a solid hunk of steel or aluminum; there are clutch breakdown scenarios that will DAMAGE a flywheel to the point where it has to be resurfaced like a brake rotor, but single mass flywheels never had these sorts of problems - VW added moving parts to a component that

        • VW make better cars than American companies.

          Not according to any of the industry quality surveys. VW is perennially near the bottom [tradeinqualityindex.com] of the quality rankings, almost always lower than the US makers.

      • by flink ( 18449 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:35AM (#50596255)

        At some point you just bankrupt the company, which is stupid, it'll put millions of people out of work, destroy a lot of wealth, and then when it files for bankruptcy, it won't be able to fix the cars in the first place.

        Do you want vengeance (against millions of people who didn't do anything), or do you want solutions?

        The fines need to cost the company more than they made/saved by implementing this scam OR the people who perpetrated this scam need to be held personally responsible, especially the executives overseeing the operation. Nothing else will deter companies from repeating this kind of behavior. Otherwise they will just make some lowly engineer the scapegoat and write off whatever symbolic fine that gets handed down as the cost of doing business.

        Since the higher ups are usually able to use the corporate veil to protect themselves from the latter option, we're left with he former: punitive fines that force shareholders/boards to police themselves.

        • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:47AM (#50596371)

          The fines need to cost the company more than they made/saved by implementing this scam OR the people who perpetrated this scam need to be held personally responsible, especially the executives overseeing the operation. Nothing else will deter companies from repeating this kind of behavior. Otherwise they will just make some lowly engineer the scapegoat and write off whatever symbolic fine that gets handed down as the cost of doing business.

          I'm not at all convinced that even the above will deter companies from doing this.

          Why? Because the people who profited from this don't care if the company is fined into nothing in 5 years, they got theirs today.

          The CEO is leaving, he has his money from the past X years. What difference does it make to him what happens in the next X years?

          You need to find the people who actually did this, and punish them, not the millions of employees of a huge corporation who had no idea it was going on.

        • Since the higher ups are usually able to use the corporate veil to protect themselves from the latter option, we're left with he former: punitive fines that force shareholders/boards to police themselves.

          ^ That is the part that needs to stop, actual specific people who profit from/make decisions to profit from such things, need to go to prison.

          Punishing the employees and shareholders does nothing, the vast majority of them had no idea this was happening.

          Never punish the innocent, it is worse than letting guilty people go free.

      • Are you suggesting we allow corporations to exhibit epic levels of malfeasance and NOT have any punishment?

        Yeah, that sounds brilliant ... lay it out plainly to every would-be shady-asshole that the penalty for fraud on a global scale is acceptable.

        And then stand back and watch every damned corporation realize they can pretty much do anything and get away with it.

        Good luck with that.

        • Are you suggesting we allow corporations to exhibit epic levels of malfeasance and NOT have any punishment?

          No, and I didn't say that either...

          But you also shouldn't destroy a company that employs millions of people because 20 of them were stupid/evil/criminals...

          There has to be a middle ground...

          • "Destroying" the company doesn't magically make all the assets disappear. Someone else buys all those factories. People are still going to be buying the same number of cars with or without that company existing and thus those cars will still be built. Those factories and workers will be needed by whomever takes up the slack.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:48AM (#50596379) Homepage Journal

        "Ban them from selling cars here for 5 years"
        "Require them to buy back every car at the full sales price"

        Don't equivocate these two. Banning them from selling cars here for 5 years would harm the public, auto dealers create a lot of jobs. Requiring them to buy back every car at the full sales price if the customer isn't satisfied with a reflash is only reasonable. Anyone should have to do this if they defraud the customer. Anyone. A person, a corporation, a co-op, anyone.

        • Don't equivocate these two. Banning them from selling cars here for 5 years would harm the public, auto dealers create a lot of jobs. Requiring them to buy back every car at the full sales price if the customer isn't satisfied with a reflash is only reasonable. Anyone should have to do this if they defraud the customer. Anyone. A person, a corporation, a co-op, anyone.

          The problem is that requiring them to buy back every car at full sales price may well bankrupt them.

          Which defeats the point.

          Ford faced a similar problem in the 90s with the Explorer. Those who remember and were paying attention will tell you that the tires were only part of it, the vehicle had a design flaw that was not really fixable. Ford should have bought them all back, but that would have simply bankrupted them, so Firestone was made the bad guys.

          VW probably will end up paying out several thousand do

          • The problem is that requiring them to buy back every car at full sales price may well bankrupt them.

            It won't. The VW group has plenty of money, and they can re-sell those cars in other markets.

            Ford faced a similar problem in the 90s with the Explorer. Those who remember and were paying attention will tell you that the tires were only part of it, the vehicle had a design flaw that was not really fixable.

            "Most other sport utility vehicles are also built on pickup truck underbodies. Indeed, many have rollover death rates considerably higher than the Explorer's [nytimes.com]. I'm no Ford-lover, but it wasn't just Ford. It was everyone. All early SUVs were tip-prone if driven by morons who refuse to acknowledge that they are driving something which is not a car. So they remade SUVs to be more like cars, making them worse at being o

            • It won't. The VW group has plenty of money, and they can re-sell those cars in other markets.

              You think this is limited only to the US?

              VW made 11 million vehicles with this defeat system in it.

              The US cars are US vin'ed, they can't just be exported to other nations and they may well not be able to get permission to do it, even if they wanted to.

              Finally, it isn't just the cost of buy backs, it is fines, legal costs, state lawsuits, etc.

              This may well end up needing a political solution, rather than a legal one. Given the size of VW, the number of people employed around the world by VW and their child

              • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

                If you don't you create a moral hazard though. Its just another from of To Big To Fail. Its not worth breaking to entire economy to protect a few unfortunate victims. If anything they should be made to qualify for unemployment insurance or something like in the case of a traditional layoff.

                • Right, so the moral hazard should be finding those who ACTUALLY did this and putting them in prison.

                  Punishing everyone else and letting the people who ACTUALLY did it go free is the real moral hazard.

                  ---

                  Right now, if I was a CEO of a huge company, I'd be thinking, "gosh, I can do something illegal, make millions personally, then resign and retire scott free while the world cuts up the company I don't really care about anyway".

                  THAT is the moral hazard.

            • "Most other sport utility vehicles are also built on pickup truck underbodies. Indeed, many have rollover death rates considerably higher than the Explorer's. I'm no Ford-lover, but it wasn't just Ford. It was everyone. All early SUVs were tip-prone if driven by morons who refuse to acknowledge that they are driving something which is not a car. So they remade SUVs to be more like cars, making them worse at being off-road vehicles in the process, instead of making a better driver, which we now know to be impossible.

              I've seen people post that before, but the truth is a bit different.

              The front suspension was redesigned from the 90-94 model year for the 95 model year. It is the 95 model year and beyond (until the full redesign in 2002) that is the problem.

              It is the combination of the new front suspension and the old rear suspension that was the issue, neither by themselves was a problem. It was a poor choice and shouldn't have been approved for production. I owned one back then, followed it closely. That info came ou

              • The Ford Explorer didn't become a "unibody car design" until 2011, when it became a tall Ford Taurus station wagon (that is really what it is today). The 2002-2010 models were body on frame just like the 95-01 models.

                IME the real difference isn't unibody anyway. That's a red herring. The real difference is the IRS on the 2002+ models.

      • In some cases, where the conduct of a corporation is so extremely egregious and sociopathic, I do think that something needs to be done to punish those ultimately responsible. That said, as much as this stuff bothers me, it bothers me far less than what GM did. Cheating on emissions tests is bad, but deliberately ignoring and covering up safety issues that you know will get people killed, and then having lots of people get killed, is worse. Of course, GM only suffered a 900 million USD fine for that, and th
        • How much money is the Volkswagen CEO going to walk away with? How much money did GM's executives make off with? Do we really expect to discourage this sort of stuff if it just comes down to cost benefit analysis?

          Exactly...

          Fining VW a billion, 10 billion, or even everything they've got, does nothing.

          The CEO got his money, what difference does it make to him what happens to VW in the future?

          That is why punishing VW to the point of bankruptcy is pointless. Find and punish those people who made this decision, find a reasonable compromise for VW to provide solutions that are affordable, and move on.

          Hurting a million employees who did nothing wrong, hurting shareholders who did nothing wrong, doesn't help anyone.

      • by khr ( 708262 )

        Do you want vengeance (against millions of people who didn't do anything), or do you want solutions?/quote?

        So what should we do? Curse them so those involved are always stuck in traffic behind someone rolling coal?

        • There is a middle ground between the two options...

          VW probably needs to come up with a solution to provide the owners a legal way to drive the cars, it will probably involve the loss of power and fuel economy, and probably involve the payment of a few thousand to each owner.

          Full price buybacks of 5 year old cars is just not reasonable.

      • by ftobin ( 48814 ) *

        Transfer shares of ownership to the victims. Jobs are saved, and the company does not go bankrupt.

        Criminal penalties against individuals are still appropriate though.

        • Transfer shares of ownership to the victims.

          From whom?

          I own shares of VW (via index funds). Are you suggesting that you simply take them away from me for... reasons?

          You really don't want to go down THAT path...

          • by ftobin ( 48814 ) *

            Of course share should be transferred from owners-- you're an owner of VW, and hence responsible (albeit indirectly) for the company's actions.

            Shareholders appoint board members, who oversee the company. Shareholders must the ones ultimately left holding the bag for civil violations, since they're the ones who own the value associated with the company.

      • Having to buy back all of the affected cars at full retail isn't a vengeful punishment. The buyers weren't complicit in this fraud. They now have a car that isn't legal to drive. If you don't make them buy back the cars at full retail, the deceived purchasers won't be whole. If I steal $1M from you, should I only have to pay back less than that? If so, I might as well steal and get caught. Punitive or vengeful would be making them pay damages on top of that, but repurchase at full retail seems to be t
    • The penalties and lawsuits will quickly exceed VW's $126bn valuation.

      No it won't. VW is a vital piece of the German economy and is part owned by the German government. They are almost certainly going to get slapped hard over this but it isn't likely to drive them out of business. It will cost them billions of dollars in fines and recalls and probably more in lost sales but they'll probably survive. Hopefully they will get slapped hard enough that they'll serve as an example to other auto makers who might be tempted to pull the same stunt.

  • Where else can I get quick treatment for my mid-life crisis???

  • by BVis ( 267028 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:15AM (#50596117)

    when the suits don't listen to the nerds, I'll bet. I'm sure at some point someone in engineering said that this was wrong, that they shouldn't cheat like this. I'm sure he/she was quickly told to drop it or start looking for a new job.

    • Could be the case. It could also be the case that an engineer thought it up and said it could be implemented and no one would notice, and the management agreed. Either way, it only seems plausible that management and the engineers must have both known about it. Maybe not the CEO. But, we'll probably never find out who really knew what.

      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        Problem is: The (now ex) CEO Martin Winterkorn is at the same time the head of the Volkswagen R&D. So while the CEO Martin Winterkorn might not have known, the R&D boss Martin Winterkorn probably has.
    • by starless ( 60879 )

      when the suits don't listen to the nerds, I'll bet. I'm sure at some point someone in engineering said that this was wrong, that they shouldn't cheat like this. I'm sure he/she was quickly told to drop it or start looking for a new job.

      Or could it have been the other way round?
      The nerd(s) had a quick cool hack to satisfy the emissions tests while providing better performance, and didn't want to listen
      to the boring lawyers in suits...?

    • Lessons to be learned:
      Government: Dire need of whistleblower protections and incentives to use them.
      Engineers: You do what you have to do to pay the bills.
      Executives: You made your windfall while polluting the world. Keep up the good work.
      The rest of the public: Demand whistle blower protections.
    • by twdorris ( 29395 )

      I'm sure at some point someone in engineering said that this was wrong, that they shouldn't cheat like this.

      Perhaps, but I suspect it's more likely that someone in engineering said, "Hey, ugh, you know you can't really hide this little forever, right? It's going to get discovered at some point either by EPA statistics analysis showing vast differences in results depending on testing methodology or by the aftermarket guys disassembling our ECU code and talking on the forums."

      Engineering *had* to know this was going to get discovered at some point. That's what really amazes me here. Why on earth would you be so

    • So engineers are somehow inherently more moral than anyone else? That's ridiculous.

      It's *just* as likely that some amoral engineer said to an amoral suit "hey, you know, we could detect when these tests are running, and kick in the pollution controls only when they're being tested" and the suit said "ok cool, do it".

  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:17AM (#50596133) Homepage Journal

    My guess is that what happened is that Engineering was told to do something that turned out to be impossible. They built a diesel engine and determined what was the maximum performance and efficiency they could achieve. Then management told them they needed to hit those numbers while still passing emissions requirements. Eventually they realized that the only solution to meet the requirements was to game the tests.

  • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:25AM (#50596175)
    Volkswagen own Audi and Porsche? Do we get another article tomorrow telling us that Seat and Skoda have been dragged into it? Any other crazy Volkswagen 'news' from the last 15 years? ;)
    • I think it would be a lot easier to keep a list of companies *not* doing this. It'll be a very short list.

  • by satch89450 ( 186046 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:26AM (#50596177) Homepage
    There is a reason Consumer Reports does most of its car tests on the road and the track -- it's more realistic. So I expect that the rules will change to de-emphasize lab testing on dynomometers and emphasize road testing using several different modes (in-town, highway, and off-road where applicable).
    • Yes, the only way to be sure that a vehicle is not producing excessive emissions is to probe the tailpipe during an actual drive cycle — preferably without connecting to the computer at all, so that the car has no way to know that it is being monitored.

  • is cleaner than it was, but not THAT much cleaner.
  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:35AM (#50596257) Homepage
    Audi is owned by Volkswagen and was part of the original compliant against Volkswagen [slashdot.org] from the EPA.
  • Between the two badges, that might be all of a few dozen cars sold in this country since 2008. Few Americans have ever even seen an Audi with a Diesel that was made since the 90s, and even fewer ever knew that Porsche has had Diesel options.
    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      'this country'. I'm UK-based, and this will be a large number of vehicles indeed. Porsche Cayennes are often diesel, and there's the new Panamara thingy too.
      • 'this country'. I'm UK-based

        Slashdot is hosted and based in the US. The most represented country on slashdot - in terms of which country most readers are from - is the US as well. It is understood that on slashdot a reference to "this country" is referring to the US unless there is context to imply otherwise.

        I am well aware that the engine distribution is vastly different for some brands - particularly European-based brands - in other countries but here in the US the Diesel is almost extinct. VW is the top seller of Diesel-power

    • Before the recently released models subject to this investigation, Audi hadn't sold a diesel in the US market since 1983. Whats funny is the last Audi diesel I came across (a MY81 Audi 4000 5 speed with a MY83 1.6L turbo diesel engine) was apparently an EPA test car for VWoA that they later resold locally.
  • by rtkluttz ( 244325 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @09:48AM (#50596375) Homepage

    Its not just VW. Its not just the auto industry. It's all over the corporate world and our governments. Everywhere there is closed source software, your stuff that uses that software is being used in anti-consumer ways. I wish people would wise up and say enough is enough. If 99% of the source code for the stuff we use every day were suddenly made public, there would be nothing short of riots in the streets. I'm not advocating that people and companies who write firmware or software should not be compensated, but I am absolutely advocating that the public be allowed to see and change the software for the stuff we purchase.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No, I fail to see why software that my team and I have spent months/years writing should be open sourced so you can download and change it for free. Open source has it's place, but making money is generally not one of them. Sure there are exceptions, but the vast majority of open source software is written by people for free. One last thing most people outside the IT industry don't realise is that writing software is VERY expensive, that expense needs to be justified and recouped otherwise it won't get d
    • software is being used in anti-consumer ways.

      The average consumer couldn't give 2 shits about NOx emissions if they could squeeze another horse or two out of the engine.

  • The Spanish brand SEAT, part of VW group, used some 500.000 of these tampered engines [elpais.com]. Jürgen Stackmann, the CEO of SEAT is also leaving this company.

    However, apparently he is not being fired, instead he will become the group worldwide sales chief [theguardian.com] (link [auto-motor-und-sport.de] in German).

    Interesting and sad to see how some people are being blamed and fired, while others (in the same position in other company of the group) manage to leave unpunished and even use this opportunity to climb in the group.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @11:50AM (#50597581)

    One thing I'm convinced of, based on my experience working with German companies, is that the audit trail *will* eventually lead one of two places -- the actual person who wrote the "benchmark mode" code and checked it in, or a black hole where records have mysteriously disappeared. German companies are fastidious record keepers, especially engineering companies. The CEO leaving is just to appease the shareholders -- the other departures are more telling, and if it got up to the VP of engineering level, there could be a lot more heads rolling.

    Honestly, without trying to sound like a finger wagging do-gooder, this is going to be a really good case study in engineering ethics, or the lack of them. Especially in the software world, this is seriously lacking. Over-stressed corporate managers or crazy inexperienced 23-year-old Silicon Valley startup CEOs have software engineers over a barrel when it comes to ethical behavior. Without PE-style personal liability, every engineer is subject to the uncomfortable conversation that goes like, "Look, we need this feature in or the product can't ship/won't pass regulation tests/won't let us do something nefarious with customer data. And if you don't want to put it in, I have 500 H-1Bs and other hungry engineers who will be happy to."

    It's too bad - most people can't afford to take a stand, and a lot just don't care enough to even if they could. They have families to feed, or debts to pay, or are worried about being blacklisted from the industry. I see a lot of posts saying the EPA was too strict with their limits -- VW has less than 3% of the US car market; they could have easily just expanded sales to China where emissions controls just don't exist at the same level. Unfortunately, the temptation is always there, and corrupt corporate executives always get away with these things, so I can see how some people think that if they just act like these guys they can join the party too.

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