Volkswagen's atrocious business practice might have been merely about selling cars. but that affected way more than customers' wallets alone:
Volkswagen played a leading role in convincing people to accept a technology that in many countries is causing a precipitous decline in air quality for millions of city-dwellers: the diesel engine. Monitoring sites in European cities like London, Stuttgart, Munich, Paris, Milan and Rome have reported high levels of the nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, or soot, that help to create menacing smogs.You see, diesel is not really "clean"--something we ought to have known on our own!
Diesel exhaust is laden with insidious soot particles, the so-called PM 2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or one-thirtieth the width of a human hair), which allow carcinogens to penetrate deep into tissues and organs. In other words, a driver who steps on the accelerator of a diesel car may be filling the lungs of nearby pedestrians, cyclists, infants in strollers and other drivers with potentially deadly particulate matter.The price we are willing to pay for material progress!
It does seem like diesel for cars is now, ahem, exhausted ;)
Diesel trucks and large passenger cars, with their relatively clean exhausts, will doubtless soldier on. But who needs a small diesel? In terms of fuel economy, small turbo-charged petrol engines have all but caught up. The diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze, for instance, gets 33mpg on the EPA's combined cycle, while the thriftiest petrol version of the same car gets 30mpg—and is a whopping $2,400 cheaper. The small, frugal diesel—upon which Volkswagen placed so much of its hopes for a future of green motoring—looks to have been left for dead by the roadside.As with everything else, and even though the ethics of customers is no better, a better future depends on we the people:
In the end it may be up to consumers to force change. After all, while climate change caused by carbon dioxide is a somewhat abstract concept, the choking effect of NOx emissions is not just in front of but in their very eyes.Or, we can always choke ourselves to death, like they do in Delhi even now :(