Volkswagen: Crisis Management

by: Jessica Fisher, SAS of Thorp School District


Recently, Volkswagen, an iconic German car manufacturer, was accused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of putting “defeat devises” in millions of VW and Audi diesel-powered cars. This software manipulated emissions test to make their vehicles pass when they did not meet the U.S. EPA standards. Eleven million cars were affected, that is more vehicles than VW sells in one year. This scandal is expected to cost Volkswagen billions of dollars and put a major dent in their reputation.

Following this bombshell, Volkswagen immediately went into crisis management mode. Here is what VW has done so far.

First, Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn issued a video apology to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Soon after Winterkorn resigned and the head of Porsche Matthias Mueller was promoted to the CEO position at Volkswagen. It is very important during a crisis to follow the four steps of crisis management; tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast and move on.


Immediately after the scandal broke, Volkswagen USA pulled all pre-scheduled social media marketing. During a crisis like this, it is important to stop your marketing efforts to avoid coming off insensitive and uncaring. However, the VW global accounts did not stop their marketing efforts, undercutting the efforts of Volkswagen USA. After the backlash from customers, all VW accounts seized communication and issues apologizes regarding the emissions crisis.

Volkswagen added a frequently asked questions page to their website. This quick response allowed customers to find the answers to all their questions and details on who to contact regarding their car. This is an effective tool for their customers.

For years to come Volkswagen will have to deal with this incident. The crisis is expected to cost the company over 7 billion dollars. VW has 70 years of experience and will bounce back over time.


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