Volkswagen became the largest carmaker in 2015. It pre-dominantly achieved it by installing software to deceive the emission regulators – ‘Clean diesel’ was a fraud claim.
Higher, Further, Faster is a detailed, slow-paced inside story that explores Volkswagen’s early beginnings from Hitler’s project – people’s car to global domination in automobiles and its ultimate fall. This story is about how succeed-at-all-cost culture led to one of the corporate history’s farthest-reaching cases of fraud.
The narrative has an automobile and financial-related jargon, but it’s clearly expressed. Technical details, especially how Volkswagen programmed the cheat was explained with diagrams and were understandable.
It is chronologically structured with a startling depth towards Volkswagen’s history.
The initial chapters aren’t gripping but it gets crazy as the story unfolds. At one point, I reacted, “Have they lost their minds? How in the hell did they have the guts to continue selling fraudulent cars while under surveillance from regulators? Was it a bold or a stupid move?”
That’s not all, some parts left me in complete surprise. For example,
- The Volkswagen law: An unusual shareholder structure aimed at restricting the power of outside shareholders.
- Co-determination law: It guarantees the rights of all employees at larger corporations to have a say – to elect workers council, introduce weekend shifts, or make job cuts.
- Proche’s failed attempt to acquire Volkswagen resulted in Volkswagen acquiring Proche.
If you love cars, this book could make you hate car manufactures, likewise, it will show you that they are in a sorry position. Here why and how:
Breton, an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doubted about its emission testing methods and developed – ROVER. It exposed reputed car manufacturers like GM, Ford, and local truck companies.
The later part reveals that Hyundai and Kia were caught breaking the emission standards too. Following this, I lost my mind. I will now have a hard time trusting a car manufacturer’s claim. I don’t want to end up owning a car that kills people.
But are car manufacturers the only ones to blame, Volkswagen in particular?
In this scenario, yes, but what troubled me is that this isn’t a case, like Theranos corporate scandal where the technology didn’t work. The technology worked and reduced the pollution to the required levels, but it was expensive and added nothing to the car’s appeal. The management thought, that this extra cost would annoy the customer and hurt their sale. Hence, they decided to install a defeat device to cheat on its fuel emissions.
The harsh reality of the auto industry is automakers face a constant struggle to strike a balance between fuel economy, customers’ desire for performance and styling, and demands of regulators for cleaner emissions and safer vehicles.
Producing environmentally friendly products raises costs. Who do you think should bear it? Are we ready to bear it?
I picked this book because of my interest in this genre. You should read it too it’s a gripping inside story that uncovered the deception in slow and steady detail.