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Don’t believe the hype. - Conversation at MIX bar, 07/10

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This week we started off discussing hairdressers in La Palma, we moved on to the difficulties of driving on that beautiful island and somehow we ended up talking about the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

I thought I was being a bit cruel when I pointed out the irony of a car builder founded by Hitler and the Nazis, now eighty years later, concerned about their public image; but then one class member, who works for a well-known car hire company, recounted a true story that brought home a sense of the gravity of this tale of corporate greed, and thus vindicated my guilty conscience.

Two elderly Germans who are well known regular visitors to Lanzarote refused their usual VW Polo at the airport and hired a Citroën (Yes! – Germans hiring a French car) . . . . . this was two days after the news broke internationally. We wondered why they would do that and we decided it must be from concern for the environment or shame . . . or both. I proposed that they were most likely ashamed; after all, this case could be interpreted as premeditated murder for financial gain.

So this is shocking. Up to 11 million affected cars spewing out levels of nitrogen oxide up to 35 times more than those that had been claimed. Some of the offending vehicles have been on the road since 2008. The CEO of Volkswagen has resigned . . . not that that makes a lot of difference to anything.

Two points; firstly nitrogen oxide is bad stuff. It damages lung tissue and causes premature death.  Children, the elderly and asthmatics are particularly susceptible . . . just one of the reasons why it is regulated.

Secondly, Volkswagen had been hyping these particular cars as especially environmentally friendly and fuel efficient.  These bold claims are in fact bare faced lies which have helped VW to the world’s highest sales.

Ok, on this little island the bad stuff is easily blown away, although I would be worried about my VW getting through its ITV test next time. However, if you live in a city . . . . a city with children in it . . . this is serious news.

Then we went on to listen to a radio interview with the research professor from West Virginia University who had done the original tests, Thiruvengadam is his name. LINK.  Everyone found this quite hard as he was speaking American English with an accent from Madras in India, but we got through it OK.

New words this week: The verbs “to hype” and “to vindicate”

See you next Wednesday at MIX bar.

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