So, for 10 years or more, Volkswagen has been lying to its customers about their supposedly “clean diesel” cars. No, the verb is not too strong, for whether we give it the name of “untruth” or “deception”, the truth remains that Volkswagen lied. 11 million vehicles worldwide programmed to falsify their output of harmful pollutants. That’s a lot of cars and a lot of pollution, and Volkswagen customers want answers for what could have justified a treachery at such a level.
The chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, resigned on Wednesday and the company potentially faces $18 billion in fines. The scandal might also make it lose its first place as the global carmaker in sales as well as customers’ trust.
Then, what happens to those rigged cars? Might there be found on some streets in Africa?
The phenomenon of “France Aurevoir”, or “Goodbye France” has started to become well developed in many African countries like Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Benin. “France Aurevoirs” are for the most part, second hand vehicles from Europe and which are prised by the emerging African middle-class for whom owning a vehicle is no longer a pipe dream. Unlike new vehicles with their exorbitant costs and their many formalities, “France Aurevoirs” offer newish cars with facilities like negotiated payments in some cases.
This is a win-win situation for the dealers based in Europe who need to get rid of their old cars, which may no longer be able to pass tests for CO2 emissions and the consumers based in Africa, for whom finances are more of a concern.
Of course, Volkswagen itself as a company may not partake in such a venture, but unscrupulous individuals might and it is necessary for African countries to be vigilant as to the outcome of this scandal.
In December, Paris will host a summit on climate change where an agreement will allow developing countries, many of them in Africa, to develop low carbon emission strategies. Countries like France have set up a special unit to deal with the sending of waste in Africa. Despite such efforts, the “France Aurevoir” business is a booming one, with many people not only setting themselves up in business but employing others, at the detriment of the biggest cost: the ecological cost.
In 2006, the international company Trafigura exported toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa. While the families who suffered from the effect of that dumping were compensated, the health problems remain.
So as Volkswagen deals with this scandal, questions may have to be asked as to what it plans to do with the rigged cars and how it will destroy them so they do not end up flooding the African market.