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How Verizon Can Save Volkswagen ... and the Planet

by Roger Lanctot | 10月 04, 2015

Volkswagen’s emissions test cheating woes are unfolding in a painfully slow but familiar manner as the corporation circles its legal wagons to confront lawsuits and to cooperate with investigations. All the while, the company has its own internal investigation to determine fault and, perhaps more importantly, a remedy.

Correcting the problems created by the falsification of emissions tests has multiple dimensions including the damage to the brand and customer relationships, the fixing of vehicles to make them compliant with emission requirements, and the restoration of trust among regulatory authorities regarding future compliance. None of these challenges is easily met, which explains the delayed response.

But the best hope for Volkswagen to reverse its negative trajectory in sales (lagging broad industry growth) reputation and public confidence is to take these immediate steps:

  1. Rush a software patch (or patches, given the variety of effected vehicles over multiple model years) to dealers and independent repair shops to make the code correction. It is likely that such a campaign will require the creation of Websites and brochures and maybe even mobile apps to explain the process and procedures to both customers and dealers/repair shops and to help customers find a local dealer or repair shop to make the correction. Appropriate compensation to dealers/repair shops will also be necessary;
  2. Provide a plug-in OBDII telematics device from Verizon Telematics for real-time emissions monitoring to offer guaranteed (free to the consumer) ongoing emissions monitoring.

The key to Volkswagen’s recovery is to keep things simple. The cheating of emissions tests is widely reported to have involved the simple process of vehicles only running emissions controls when they were actually being tested. It ought to be a relatively simple procedure to restore the software code to its proper always-on condition.

Volkswagen is in the fortunate position, if that can be said in the midst of such a crisis, of already being a Verizon Telematics customer. Verizon Telematics owns a company called NetworkFleet which has a remote emissions testing system. (NetworkFleet is the current incarnation of NetworkCar which was acquired from Reynolds & Reynolds in 2006 by Hughes Telematics, which was later acquired by Verizon.)

The Verizon model of remote emissions testing – which has been bragged on for years for its ability to save fleets time and money – is capable of providing a universal solution that can be remotely tuned and tweaked to suit local requirements. This is especially important given the varied scope of emissions testing across the 50 U.S. states and Europe.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to defeating emissions tests – a process which will be made more difficult by a permanently installed and regularly monitored system such as that from Verizon. In this way, Volkswagen can become the poster child for emissions testing compliance – while pointing the way for the industry to resolve this ongoing trouble spot.

The use of the Verizon device – a $99 retail value – installed for free will also open up the opportunity for added value services that either Verizon or Volkswagen could leverage. Terms and conditions for such a program will have to be carefully written. (The cost of data transmission for the emissions monitoring will be minimal and paid for by VW.)

For diesel vehicles equipped with embedded Verizon telematics code, the added device may not be necessary. While Volkswagen uses AT&T wireless service for telematics connectivity, the company’s telematics service provider is Verizon, globally. Helping Volkswagen’s recovery may well redefine the role of telematics in future connected cars – while saving many of us (at least Volkswagen owners for now) an annual trip to our mechanic.

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