September 07, 2016
After VW, now Bosch
We have always treated the VW affair as a broader economic story because it involves so much more than just a single company. We believe that the scandal is indicative of the decline of the European car industry, and also of Germany's economic model at large. The big news yesterday was that Bosch and Audi were both more deeply involved in the fraud than previously assumed. This makes total sense. The idea that Bosch could develop software without knowledge that its customers would actually use it for cheating beggars belief.
Tagesschau reports on an investigation by its regional affiliates that US prosecutors have prepared a document listing the company's deep involvement. The document sets out the prosecution's case against Bosch. Its information is based on documents relating to VW. According to this document, Bosch was not only aware of what happened but was an active participant. It refers to a letter, written by a Bosch executive in 2008, in which Bosch warned that the use of this software could be illegal in the US, which has strict laws on anti-defeat devices. Bosch has been in control of development of the software and its use by clients, and insisted in 2006 that only 35 people at VW and one supplier company be given access to the inner working of the software. No changes to the software were allowed without the explicit consent of Bosch. On one occasion the company insisted that VW remove a reference to the cheating device from a software manual.
The document also refers to an Audi manager who encouraged the further development of the software. Another Audi manager had asked for discussions about the software to be held off the record - only in person or by telephone.