Consumers and government agencies expect manufacturing companies to publish accurate and truthful information about the quality of their products to facilitate in the decision-making process and averting accidents. Failure to disclose such information is one of the leading examples of unethical practices perpetrated by automobile manufacturing companies, and this exposes consumers to serious health and safety risks. Several automobile manufacturers have been forced to recall some of their car models due to safety and emission concerns raised by consumers and regulatory agencies in the United States. Strict oversight and consumer awareness are crucial in improving health and safety standards in the automobile industry and transport sector. This paper explores ethical issues at Volkswagen and its primary competitors – Honda and Ford.
Full disclosure is a crucial component of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility because it helps in protecting customers from adverse outcomes when using a company’s products. Consequently, the falsification of critical data is one of the leading ethical issues at Volkswagen. Volkswagen created an uproar by deliberately misleading its customers and environmentalists about results from its emission tests. As Patel observes, Volkswagen installed a sneaky software that could control emission levels when the cars were subjected to emission testing and turning off under normal driving conditions thereby releasing unacceptable levels of air pollutants (par. 2). The scandal forced the company to recall about eleven million diesel cars in addition to facing scrutiny by the United States’ justice department, and this severely hurt the company’s brand image and profit margins (Du and Merrill-Sands p. 2).
Nonetheless, Volkswagen is not the only automobile manufacturer that has been noted to mislead its customers. Some incidences at Ford and Honda Motor companies have also raised concerns over the ethical standards of the two automobile manufacturers. For example, the Firestone tire scandal forced Ford Motor Company and the tire manufacturer to recall millions of defective tires during the 2000s. Although the fiasco involved the tread failure in the tires, it quickly became apparent that the Ford Explorer model had several design flaws that made the cars susceptible to accidents. Additionally, Ford knew about the flaws in the Firestone tires but decided to use them on their Ford Explorers nonetheless (Powell, Neely, and Sawayda 7). Honda Motor Company has been accused of exposing its customers to serious safety hazards through its faulty airbags that explode suddenly. Safety tests indicate that the probability of the “Takata airbags” exploding unexpectedly was 50% although the company had not warned its customers about the situation (Isidore p. 1). Consequently, all the automobile manufacturers should review the safety standards of their products to avoid exposing their customers to safety hazards. Hom
Du, Shuili and Merrill-Sands, Deborah. The VW Scandal Continues: Implications for Corporate Social Responsibility. January 12, 2016. Web. November 28, 2016. <https://www.triplepundit.com/2016/01/vw-scandal-continues-implications-corporate-social-responsibility/>
Isidore, Chris. Stop Driving these Hondas Rigth Now, Says Regulator. June 30, 2016. Web. November 28, 2016. <http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/30/autos/takata-honda-airbag-warning/>
Patel, Prachi. Engineers, Ethics, and the VW Scandal. September 25, 2015. Web. November 28, 2016. <http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/at-work/education/vw-scandal-shocking-but-not-surprising-ethicists-say>
Powell, Emily, Neely Cody, and Sawayda Jennifer. Ford Motor Company Manages Ethics and Social Responsibility. 2014. Web. November 28, 2016. <https://danielsethics.mgt.unm.edu/PDF/FORD-MOTOR-CASE.PDF>