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In mid-2015 Volkswagen proudly reached its goal of surpassing Toyota as the world's largest automaker. A few months later, the EPA disclosed that Volkswagen had installed software in 11 million cars that deceived emissions-testing mechanisms. By early 2017 VW had settled with American regulators and car owners for $20 billion, with additional lawsuits still looming.
In Faster, Higher, Farther, Jack Ewing rips the lid off the conspiracy. He describes VW's rise from "the people's car" during the Nazi era to one of Germany's most prestigious and important global brands, touted for being "green". He paints vivid portraits of Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch and chief executive Martin Winterkorn, arguing that the corporate culture they fostered drove employees, working feverishly in pursuit of impossible sales targets, to illegal methods. Unable to build cars that could meet emissions standards in the United States honestly, engineers were left with no choice but to cheat. Volkswagen then compounded the fraud by spending millions marketing "clean diesel", only to have the lie exposed by a handful of researchers on a shoestring budget, resulting in a guilty plea to criminal charges in a landmark Department of Justice case.
Faster, Higher, Farther reveals how the succeed-at-all-costs mentality prevalent in modern boardrooms led to one of corporate history's farthest-reaching cases of fraud - with potentially devastating consequences.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Northern IN Mark on 05-27-17
Excellent recap of VW, its structure and culture
What did you love best about Faster, Higher, Farther?
The research quality is excellent, and the author does not leap to conclusions that aren't fact based. There are some highly technical areas that are overly simplified, but I suppose that keeps non-engineers engaged in the book. The tension and drama of the Porsche and Piech families is brought out in an insightful way.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Clearly, Ferdinand Piëch is the main focus of this book.
Any additional comments?
I have owned and driven at least one VW since 1971. I've built and rebuilt several air cooled (Ghia, Thing, Dune Buggy) and enjoy my '74 Thing and '91 Vanagon camper. My wife enjoyed our '06 Passat VR6 4mo wagon and '11 Tig. My work car is a '14 TDi SEL. In between, there were other cars I try to forget.
The company has been late to the US market in so many ways, and de-contented their US made vehicles below my point of interest. I love the drive and feel of their vehicles, and this book explained how they came off the rails. It will be a steep hill for them to climb in the US.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By S. Yates on 07-03-18
Solid writing, a bit dry
3.5 stars. This is a solid book of reporting on the VW scandal (thus far). In explaining the contours of VW's efforts to thwart United States emissions tests, Ewing first places VW in history. The book, after a brief introductory chapter, flashes back to the founding families of VW and Porshe (the Piëch and Porshe families), covering their interests in engineering, their place in Germany and Austria during WWI, the interwar period, and WWII, and the personalities at play. Ewing also gives highlights of each car company's products, explanation of some of the engineering behind advances, and a broad portrait of how the larger companies were run.
With this as foundation, we eventually find ourselves moving forward into the present day. We are given background of how the car business was changing, the competition for new markets, and the impact of oil prices and environmental concerns on both. That background, along with the knowledge of how VW was run (and the personality, in particular, of Ferdinand Piëch), sets the stage for the scandal that hit the newspapers a few years back and is still playing out in court (both the legal courts and the court of public opinion).
In the end, this is half history and half story of corporate hubris and recklessness. The book is interesting, but not necessarily gripping. Ewing is very workmanlike, and is clear and easy to understand, but not engaging enough to make this a book you can't put down. A few other reviews have noted that the story is incomplete as we are still in the pendency of legal ramifications (including class actions around the world) and long term PR effects. I agree, and the story just seems to abruptly end. I will at least be able to keep up to date on developments in the case with a lot more understanding than I used to have, but I can't help but think this book could have waited until the story had fully unfurled.