Sorry Diogenes, but ethics ain’t improved much during the last couple millenia since you went on a fruitless search for an honest man. In the latest charges against VW in the growing DieselGate scandal, the Attorney Generals of New York and a couple other states allege that the “cheat code” was more than just a hack to get VW past U.S. Emissions standards ’til they could get new models designed around Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) tanks into production and wasn’t just vestigially present but inactive in the rest of VW’s diesels for going on a decade. Turns out that the cheat was on in pretty much every VW TDI diesel sold in the U.S. since late 2008, and maybe longer in the rest of the world. VW is probably the largest volume builder of diesel cars in the world and has a big chunk of the light commercial vehicle biz too… Which means that VW may very well have been the biggest producer of NOX and other emissions for the last decade. Sorry VW, this is no longer an insignificant small market half million car “oops”.

Apparently there’s no more honesty to be found in the heavy truck biz…The EU’s antitrust regulators and prosecutors just came down hard on their market’s heavy truck makers, hitting Daimler, IVECO, Paccar, Volkswagon, and¬† Volvo with a few billion in fines for using the tightening emissions standards as an excuse to collude in price fixing. Knowing what the hardware to meet the new standards in 2007 and 2010 in the USA cost, I was somewhat taken aback when the big truck makers uniformly seemed to jack prices by $7500 for the 2007 models and yet another $7500 for the 2010 models. No surprise, given that the guilty parties in the EU are also 3 or the 4 surviving U.S. heavy truck makers.

In the corporate world Diogene’s search has been taken over by Ethisphere, a non profit that rates companies and even nonprofits on their ethical behavior or lack of the same. Participation is voluntary, but I would guess every Fortune 500 company with a chance of winnin’ their awards is applying for them… So how come only one automaker, Ford, has made Ethisphere’s awards list for several years now, while Cummins of engine fame has been a regular honoree for over a decade now? No surprise, Ford has given up trying to fool us with a half dozen upmarket variations on the same vehicle and they knew better than too even try to get a diesel car certified in the USA. Cummins is big in natural gas and pays the worlds best architects to design public buildings in their hometown of Columbus, Indiana. The lone truck only maker to merit Ethisphere honors is Oshkosh, who makes mostly military trucks but is known for underbidding Navistar by so much on a lucrative contract that losing Navistar protested that Oshkosh’s prices were too low. Locomotive and just about everything else electrical builder GE earned honors too, as did Deere in the tractor biz.

So how come VW didn’t make Ethisphere’s honor roll? And Toyota, GM, Honda, BMW, Daimler, Suburu, Isuzu, Paccar, Fiat Chrysler, ad nauseum?