Breakingviews

Daimler’s emissions snootiness grinds to a halt

April 22, 2016

The German carmaker has vigorously refuted environmentalists’ accusations it is another VW. Now U.S. authorities have requested an emissions probe. It’s possible that any infringements are technical, relating to disclosure oversights. But shareholders have grounds to feel edgy.

Peugeot could rev revival by scrapping luxury line

February 24, 2016

The French group has become one of Europe’s most profitable mass-market carmakers under boss Carlos Tavares, with a 5 pct operating margin in 2015. But a costly plan for a new premium brand risks spoiling the performance. Junking the idea would speed an already healthy recovery.

VW car buyback would speed emissions-scandal exit

February 23, 2016

After five months, the German automaker hasn’t shown U.S. watchdogs that its diesel vehicles can meet environmental standards. Purchasing the worst clunkers might limit legal exposure, appease regulators and help end the fiasco. The hefty $5 bln cost could be money well spent.

Cash-rich VW braced for dieselgate impact

October 28, 2015

Third-quarter earnings don’t yet reflect the effect of the carmaker’s emissions scandal, besides slightly increasing its recall cost provision to 6.7 bln euros. Strong cashflow and stable demand for its cars suggest VW is in decent shape to absorb the likely financial impact.

How diesel-mad EU laid seeds of VW scandal

October 26, 2015

The fierce U.S. response to the carmaker’s emissions manipulation shows Europe has been lax on a core public health issue. Exhaust limits are too high, test procedures too weak, and evidence of non-compliance was missed. Clean diesel is possible, but only with lower auto profit.

Economics in action: VW crashes into regulation

September 25, 2015

The German carmaker crossed the sometimes fine line between permitted arbitrage of regulation and cheating. Volkswagen got it wrong, but successful economies mostly get it right. Although regulators can be annoying, industrial prosperity depends on them.

VW needs a chairman from Frankenstein’s lab

September 25, 2015

Who could lead Europe’s largest carmaker out of its current emissions-scandal funk? The challenge is so big and diverse that it would be impossible to find the one perfect candidate. Breakingviews names five managers that Wolfsburg engineers must wish they could “cut and shut”.

VW needs more than just a new CEO

September 23, 2015

Martin Winterkorn should go, having presided over an emissions-cheating scandal that wiped a third off the German carmaker’s market value in two days. But VW’s over-complex structure and poor corporate governance look like culprits too. It is time for some urgent retooling.

VW could pass auto peers in payout hall of shame

September 22, 2015

The German carmaker lost $18.6 bln in value after admitting rigging U.S. emissions. Peers paid less for blunders causing fatal crashes. But the environmental twist in VW’s case makes things more uncertain. The best analogy might not be cars but oil: BP’s $54 bln Deepwater fiasco.

VW emissions scandal could be auto sector’s Libor

September 21, 2015

U.S. authorities say Europe’s biggest carmaker rigged emissions tests. The questions it raises recall bank rate-fixing scandals: how widespread the bad behaviour was, whether bosses knew, and who else was at it. Without rogue traders to blame, this could be harder to defuse.