Infographic: the VW scandal in the media
More than 5 million vehicles affected worldwide and a disastrous quarterly report for Volkswagen – beginning as just allegations of manipulation, now online coverage of the German car maker is dominated by one term: scandal.
From news item to scandal
The news of VW’s manipulation of auto exhaust broke on Friday, September 18th. The keyword ‘scandal’ emerged for the first time two days later and increased rapidly. Its use climaxed on Wednesday, September 23rd: the term ‘scandal’ was mentioned in 194 publications related to VW on this day.
Effects of the software tampering
The consequences of the manipulated exhaust measurements are serious. Not only were the authorities misled, but also customers. More than 5 million vehicles worldwide - including 400,000 in the US - are affected. Scientists have estimated that about 60 people in the United States could die by the end of 2016 as a result of the elevated exhaust emissions.
Severe losses for Volkswagen
In the US, Volkswagen is faced with a penalty of up to 18 billion dollars. As the magnitude of the scandal became clear, the value of VW stock plummeted. On the day the allegations were first reported, preferred shares were worth € 161.65. Within four days the price fell to € 106.00, and by October 10th it was down to € 86.36.
Due to the expected costs of penalties and recalls, VW has set aside reserves of 6.7 billion euros. This sum noticeably impacted the company’s balance sheet for the third quarter of 2015: it recorded a loss of 1.83 billion euros.
The VW scandal goes global
Online media has also reported that not only US vehicles are affected. English-language publications mentioned impacted vehicles in Switzerland (September 26th), the United Kingdom (September 30th), and India and Australia (October 7th).
Key figures in the scandal
While no one has yet been found officially culpable for the VW scandal, there were personnel changes early on. VW boss Martin Winterkorn was forced to resign from his post on September 23rd. Two days later, Porsche CEO Matthias Müller was named as his successor. For online media, however, Winterkorn remained the more intriguing figure. The public prosecutor in Braunschweig announced on September 28th that it was investigating the ex-CEO on fraud charges, only to retract that statement two days later. The current targets of the investigation are unknown persons. When a scandal is big enough, even Hollywood takes notice. On October 13th, it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio secured the film rights to the story of the VW scandal.