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Why the VW scandal could do some good

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The Volkswagen logo is seen on the grill of a Passat in the U.S.   © Reuters

"If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen" ran the punchline of one of the automaker's most successful television commercials in North America. That was almost 30 years ago. Since VW was exposed as systematically cheating authorities in the U.S. and Europe so as to hide the levels of pollutants emitted by its diesel cars, it seems like a relic from a far more distant past.

     The scandal has shaken customers' once rock-solid trust in the German company, inflicting incalculable damage on its brand and dashing its cherished ambitions to supplant Toyota as the world's biggest carmaker. It has also triggered investigations by the European Union and South Korea, which may implicate other manufacturers as well as EU member governments. Who would think a simple piece of software, designed to reduce emissions only when cars were undergoing government testing, could wreak so much havoc?

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