Since we are back from Germany, we have been talking about buying a new car. For everyone that knows our present car, an old purplish Saturn, you know why we need a new one :). We decided on a VW Golf Diesel and if possible with manual transmission. I love driving manuals and with all the advantages automatics might have, I still think the Fahrvergnügen is kind of lousy. We talked with car dealers, test drove one car and finally had a very good offer on a brand new Golf. We had scheduled a last appointment to test drive ‘our’ car and then intended to sign the papers. The appointment was on Saturday afternoon. Around noon we got a call from VW Oakland dealership informing us that all sales on diesel cars have been stopped until further notice. How curious!
Now we know that VW fucked up! To update you on the facts: The German car giant has admitted cheating emissions tests in the US! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some cars being sold in America had devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. It is unbelievable, but what does that mean to me; being German living in the United States?
My choice for buying a Golf is mostly based on sympathy for a German company, their reputation and the looks. But, it has also sentimental reasons. I feel a little bit like home, sitting in a VW and especially in a Golf. Being so close buying a car that got pulled off the market the day we wanted to purchase it, makes me feel cheated and betrayed. It is weird, but I do feel that. Germans are stereotypically known for their direct and honest approach, for their punctuality, thoroughness, realism, efficiency and for their engineering to name a few characteristics. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Fiat has launched such a fiasco or any turkish car company, but Germans! No way!
We Germans worked so hard to acquire these stupid stereotypical adjectives and I am annoyed about VW doing its best to ridicule them with their dumb attempt to make diesel engines appear better than they are. What were they thinking? What is behind that totally outrageous behavior? Did VW really think, they could cover up that major lie? I don’t believe that, believing it seems to be even more silly and I wish I would be amused by it.
I cannot answer these questions and I think it is more important for me to answer another one: Why do I take a big corporate company’s scandal personally? What does their mess have to do with me and why do I react so surprisingly strong?
I believe, if I lived in Germany my behavior would have been different. Maybe I would have shaken my head a few times and had made a few superficial comments but not much more. I think as a German immigrant, I just don’t want any German company cheating on the country I have chosen to live in. It is immoral and simply wrong. I am not sure how many of all the terrible things Germans have done in the past I still carry, but I do notice that I want to represent some of the German stereotypes, especially the ones I always detested when I was a teenager. I cannot even say if I like that or not, but I understand that I honor more German characteristics than I was ever aware of living in Germany. I feel responsible shedding light on us Germans and I even want to expand our qualities to more loveliness, creativity and lightness. Aren’t these goals an ambassador has for her home country?! At least I can thank VW for helping me unwrap these hidden goals of mine!