Sorry to say, but this Audi scandal’s long gone as a memory of the ’80s, although the fact is this — this scandal wasn’t even really a scandal, per se, but Audi certainly did take some massive heat for it. Want to know what it was about?
The Audi Scandal of the ’80s: When Cars Drove Wild
We’re of course talking about acceleration, something those Audi vehicles had some trouble with, apparently. Audi very nearly had to exit the American market of the auto industry as a result, much like how Volkswagen might have to regarding their emissions test scandal. However, the scandal was only due to a sucker punch of an exposé when CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Audi owners claiming that their cars would accelerate without drivers putting any pressure on the gas.
Scary thought. Makes one think about those haunted Stephen King cars (“Christine” or “Maximum Overdrive,” anyone?).
Talk about an apparent scam, though, setting off such a panic after Audi went ahead and sold more than 75K cars in the U.S. and facing sales trickle of a measly 12K cars in 1991. But here’s the kicker: the video proved to be a scam all itself as viewers weren’t even told that the Audi car was modified with an air compressor forcing the vehicle into gear so that it would look like it was accelerating uncontrollably. Sneaky.
Still the Damage Was Done Thanks to This Audi Scandal
And it took the automaker nearly 20 years to recover from this obvious Audi scandal, through no fault of their own, though. Even when Audi ran some pretty snotty ads quizzing potential buyers about their cars that “if you can pass this test…. You’re ready for an Audi,” making it seem like buyers wouldn’t know where the gas pedal was, Audi still survived.
And it turned out Audi was absolutely right — tests proved that people would confuse the gas and brake pedals, vindicating the automaker as a continuing competitor in the automotive market. I guess that’s a precursor to the hanging “chad” of Florida voters when Gore ran against Bush? Hmm….
Thankfully, this bitter problem has been long gone in the annuls of scandalous automotive history, but Ford to this day probably still does remember the issue back then regarding those Firestone tires. What was the deal with the Ford-Firestone disaster? Check it out….
The Ford-Firestone Problem Was All About the New Explorer
It was the ’90s, an age when SUVs ruled the landscape like the thunder lizards. Who knew that this T. Rex of a scandal would rock the nation in 2000 when Ford partnered with Firestone to herald in the new era with the Explorer, replacing the dangerous Bronco II, an SUV prone to rollovers. Not something you’d want to experience.
Ford-Firestone thought they had it right. And for a while there, they did. The Ford Explorer sold like hotcakes until it turned out the NHTSA sought to investigate occurrences of blowouts leading to rollovers. So what did Ford do?
Ford blamed Firestone.
What did Firestone do? They blamed Ford! You can see the issue ensuing and a battle between dinosaurs of this automotive industry shock the world.
The issue had to be addressed given the fact that there had been 100 deaths worldwide due to rollovers, so someone had to be held accountable. Ford-Firestone was on the brink of implosion as the tire company recalled 6.5MM tires while pointing the finger and saying that the heat, low tire pressure and the Ford Explorer’s weight were all the causes of those accidents. Of course, Ford Motor Company struck back, sticking to their opinion — they said those Firestone tires sucked.
Like All Battles, It Ended ‘Amicably’
Of course, executives for Ford-Firestone collectively battled each other in court, trying to come up with some consensus on who was at fault, but in the end, it just turned out that Ford-Firestone was no more back in 2002. Parting ways, it just seemed the right decision given the millions of dollars paid out for lawsuits. The issue just no longer mattered!
What’s funny is this — neither company to this day has admitted full responsibility for the rollover issue.
There’s a reason why we don’t see problem with airbags these days — it seems like the auto industry would learn their lessons and know that automotive safety is paramount. That’s why we have this Takata airbags scandal to learn from:
What Exactly Went on With Those Takata Airbags?
The Japanese automotive supplier knew all about airbags for years, actually. But something got missed in a memo saying that the Takata airbags between 2000 and 2008 weren’t doing the job they were supposed to do, risking the lives of many drivers. And this was a big deal precisely due to this fact: Takata airbags were installed in vehicles for ten of the globe’s greatest automakers!
That’s about 17MM vehicles, for those wanting turnkey mathematics. Talk about a big Takata airbags scandal resulting in arguably one of the heftiest recalls known to the automotive industry. We can guess that Volkswagen can relate regarding their emissions scandal….
The problem with those Takata airbags was the fact that they were apparently affected by moisture, also deploying with excessive force. This could cause fatal injuries when the Takata airbags were meant to provide safety. The New York Times, of course, exposed the issue, alleging that Honda and Takata knew about that fatal flaw, which resulted in the government fining Honda a pretty wicked $70MM. What’s sad about that is this: Honda wasn’t even responsible!
It was Takata, facing fines of $14K for each day they didn’t cooperate with the federal investigation.
But Here’s the Scariest Thing About This Scandal….
Because of how expansive this worldwide scandal is regarding the Takata airbags, it turns out that there still may be as many as 30MM vehicles out there with those exact same airbags. You better be careful; you might be driving a death trap. Pretty frightening, don’t you think?