I recently had the opportunity to narrate this book by Jack Ewing. Mr. Ewing was a reporter for the New York Times and covered this story throughout, so he had a wealth of knowledge which he put to good use in the book.
Publisher W.W. Norton & Company says “In Faster, Higher, Farther, Jack Ewing rips the lid off the conspiracy. He describes VW’s rise from ‘the people’s car’ during the Nazi era to one of Germany’s most prestigious and important global brands, touted for being ‘green.’ He paints vivid portraits of Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch and chief executive Martin Winterkorn, arguing that the corporate culture they fostered drove employees, working feverishly in pursuit of impossible sales targets, to illegal methods.”
Of course, corporate malfeasance isn’t new, and it isn’t in our past. Just today I heard reports of two respected Japanese companies – Subaru and Mitsubishi – that had been caught lying. The first regarding safety inspections (in particular the qualifications of the inspectors) and the second regarding the properties of a wire component used in other products. But in the VW story as told by Ewing, the most interesting aspect to me was the way he was able to piece together a larger picture of the company and the environment within which their emissions defeat device was developed and implemented. It seemed a perfect storm of competitive pressure and corporate culture gone awry. Reading Faster, Higher, Farther, I almost felt like the folks at VW didn’t think they were doing anything nefarious given international regulatory requirements that differed significantly in spirit and letter. But, in the end, it seems the cover-up was the most egregious act on VW’s part – leading regulators on a wild goose chase for well over a year while continuing to knowingly sell cars in the U.S. and elsewhere that not only didn’t meet emissions standards but were designed to circumvent emissions testing in order to feign compliance.
It was a very interesting read.