There’s only so much punishment you can take…Just how much can be doled out to the beleaguered German car firm without making them pack their bags and head home, is something the U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to gauge.
According to reports in Automotive News, the governmental body is trying to work out how much they can fine the car maker without pushing them to the point where they decide to exit the North American market entirely.
VW has had tricky times in the US before. In the early 90s, sales had plummeted to such extreme lows that the question about their long term future there was questioned. Quality of the Mexican made Jettas and Golfs was so poor that the President of Volkswagen America, Bill Young refused to take them.
Instead, Vauxhall AG were made to resolve the quality issues, this took nine months, and they were also made to fund the VW dealers the revenue that would have been earned had the vehicles been made correctly in the first place.
It was the concept car, Concept One, the precursor to the new Beetle that saved the company that time. When the model was unveiled at the 1994 North American International Auto Show, it sparked such a wave of interest in VW that when the car finally appeared in showrooms in 1997 it helped raise sales in the rectified Golfs and Jettas. The Passat sedan also saw a boost in sales. VW was back from the brink.
These days, the cars produced by VW in Tennessee, as well as Mexico, have been specifically tailored for the U.S. market and are very good quality. VW had an original goal of selling one million vehicles in the States by 2018, but this lofty ambition was failing even before the company became mired in the emissions scandal.
One thing is clear; VW wants to stay in the US, despite having already coughed up to the sizable tune of $15 billion dollars in civil penalties. If the DOJ continue to punish the car maker at the same extent, Volkswagen may simply decide to cut their losses and pull out. The state department will have to find ways of being more creative with their penalties, such as forcing the company to invest heavily electric car infrastructure around the country – in addition to the prototypes they are already developing.
This kind of penalty, would eventually allow VW to absorb the costs of the ‘fine’, stay in business plus do a good for environmentally friendly motoring as the EV fleets expands across America. Naturally, this would be a preferable outcome than seeing the maker of the Beetle upping sticks for good.