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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.
The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Bad "Car"Ma: Defeat Devices Not Legitimate Quality Nor Socially Responsible
For reference, this story has been corroborated across multiple web publications as shown below.
The summary is that between 480,000 and 500,000 (482,000 by multiple accounts) vehicles will need to be recalled. These cars had software known as a Defeat Device installed to activate all emissions control capabilities during testing, and disable the majority of those controls during normal operation, when the emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) would be estimated to be 10-40 times higher than the emissions released during testing.
I consider this to be "Contrived Quality" because the vehicle was designed with a feature to demonstrate a particular result under a particular configuration that was not reflective of normal use. (This is like a roofing company boasting about having no water leaks during a drought, but changing their statement once it actually starts raining).
These outcomes were discovered by an independent emissions study conducted in West Virginia, and the reports of that study were communicated to both the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. After initial resistance, VW was forced to disclose the presence of the defeat device.
In addition to the recall of multiple diesel models, the overall VW brand is tarnished. Consumers who had paid a premium for a vehicle with emissions control are now disappointed that their "clean diesel" cars are not legitimate. All future purchases from VW will be made with extra caution based on this act of noncompliance.
With respect to Social Responsibility, this is an excellent example of a product which was marketed as a Socially Responsible solution, but due to its technical manipulation was actually Socially Detrimental. Nearly half a million vehicles are on the road with excessive emissions, adding to the contribution of nitrogen oxide in our environment.
This is not without recent precedent. In November 2014, Hyundai and Kia were fined a combined $300 million for violating the Clean Air Act. The Financial Times estimates a fine of $37,500 per vehicle, which could result in a combined fine to VW of $18 billion. How is that for a Cost of Quality and Cost of Social Responsibility?