In the ongoing diesel emissions fiasco, developments have been coming somewhat slowly, leaving plenty of room for rhetoric while we wait for a resolution. Volkswagen faces serious fines for the cheat, as the investigation continues in hopes of pinning down responsibility. In the meantime, the US Justice Department is suing the German automaker for up to $46 billion (a staggering number for nearly any human to comprehend, admittedly, and one that appears to have the automaker shaken) for violating US law by intentionally selling vehicles with emissions "cheat device" software. As the situation drags on, the rhetoric is becoming more and more pointed.

Now, a warning comes out of Germany directed at the US. In front of 20,000 workers at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters, works council chairman Bernd Osterloh said, "Should the future viability of Volkswagen be endangered by an unprecedented financial penalty, this will have dramatic social consequences, not only in our US plants, but also in Europe and elsewhere." Osterloh, who sits on a VW advisory board, added, "We very much hope that the US authorities also have an eye for this social and employment-political dimension."

The US jobs he refers to include the some 2,200 workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That facility produces the Passat, and is slated to build a large SUV to be revealed later this year.

Depending on how long this situation drags on, it will likely become increasingly political. We can probably expect more strong language, and more veiled and overt threats from all parties as they try to make their case, garner support and sympathy for their side and portray one another as villains. Still, there are cooler heads in the fray who aren't resorting to scare tactics.

Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil, who sits on the same VW supervisory board as Osterloh, says, "The damage will, on balance, not be minor, that much can already be said today, but Volkswagen luckily has a strong economic base." Weil says the German state, which owns a 20-percent stake in VW, has every expectation to continue its financial commitment to the manufacturer.

In such a high-profile and wide-reaching scandal, we shouldn't be surprised by scare tactics, as unpleasant as they are. Let's just hope that cooler heads prevail, and that there can be a fair resolution before things get even more emotional.

Share This Photo X