In amongst all the Brexit news, you may have noticed that this has been an interesting week for VW. At the start of the week things were very buoyant, 12bn euros annual profit and with the company setting bold new targets for electric vehicle production. While it concedes that the future for the traditional motor industry will not be quite as rosy after the electric revolution, there will be some job losses, but there will be some winners too. And VW is being seen as a leading light in the revolution itself. Commentators agree and are confident that the group will do extremely well in electric.
Half way through the week, however, it had to pull a stock market listing of its truck unit, Traton. It cited global market conditions is just not being conducive to maximising value at the moment. Something that will be a severe blow to the company’s MAN and Scania Brands.,  which form part of this curiously named subsidiary. Amongst the problems highlighted were sales in China and tighter emission controls in Europe.

However it got a lot worse by Friday. First of all the SEC announced that they were going to sue VW and their former chief executive as a result of the emissions scandal. And when somebody in the US like the Securities and Exchange Commission sues you, then you probably sit up and take notice. Because they do not deal in small penalties if they find against you. It cites the company’s hiding of its decade-long emission scheme while attracting inward investment as the problem.

Still, it could not get any worse, could it? Well tell that Herbert Diess, the current VW boss. He used a rather unfortunate line at a company event on Tuesday, which was only reported yesterday and seems to have gone global today. In English, the phrase “Earnings before interest and taxes sets you free” would not really provoke much of a response. But sadly in German it echoed a Nazi phrase from the concentration camps that was more than very unfortunate. On what level did he, or his script writer, reckon that would play well? With the group’s history intertwined with the Nazis way back when you just do not go there. And however much good publicity the brand has had this week, not least the 12 billion of profit, the way it finished the week was pretty poor.

Have a great weekend – hold onto your hats, it’s going to be windy.

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