#Dieselgate: France’s Economy Minister points fingers at Detroit, Bloomberg suppresses story

Macron points finger at Detroit, somewhere over his right shoulder

Macron points finger at Detroit, somewhere over his right shoulder

France’s Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron accuses American automakers of exploiting the crisis at Volkswagen to “weaken the European industry,” media reports from France say. Frankly, I would be astonished if Detroit lets the scandal go by without a little hay making. American news outlets apparently think the story is too much for the tender feelings of their readers, and they actively suppress the story.

“From an industrial perspective, you also have competitors, in particular American competitors, which are, as we all know, a lot less open to diesel, even if they have vehicles that are also very polluting (…) and which look to weaken European industry through this scandal.”

That’s what Macron told reporters at a supplier’s plant in at Puiseux-Pontoise (Val d’Oise) yesterday. “We must all be extremely vigilant in order not to turn the Volkswagen scandal into a Diesel scandal,” he insisted.

Macron probably has reason to complain. Sure, it was Volkswagen that got caught. But the story broke in the U.S., all too perfectly timed to coincide with the Frankfurt auto show and the launch of the new U.S. Passat. Those who say that Ford and GM have no reason to go after a VW with its anorexic American footprint need to take off their blinders. The car business is global. VW trounced Detroit in the world markets. GM has been hemorrhaging money in Europe for decades, Ford had to endure painful cutbacks in the EU, while Volkswagen gained European market share with murderous discounts. In the world’s largest auto market, China, GM is no longer the market leader, Volkswagen is. In a situation like that, Detroit would be hard pressed to resist pouring oil into already painful wounds.

Diesel_penetrationThe EU car industry is heavily exposed to diesel. In Western Europe, the take rate exceeded 50 percent last year, in France, it was close to 64 percent. Especially PSA is heavily invested into diesel. Punch diesel, and EU automakers get hit.

Under the headline “Macron accuses U.S. automakers” the story was published by Le Figaro. So why is it not all over the U.S. press? Why aren’t French fries being boycotted, and why are blogs not overflowing with comments about cheese-eating frogs? This is what you should ask Bloomberg. The wire service apparently also was invited to the presser in the provinces. Bloomberg seemingly decided that Macron’s finger pointing is too much for its sensitive clientele. In Bloomberg’s report, the inflammatory quote was heavily condensed and watered down: “Volkswagengate is not dieselgate,” Macron said according to Bloomberg. “These are two different things.” No mention of Macon’s fingering of Detroit.

Strange, no?

P.S.: Meanwhile in Germany, and for what it’s worth, Matthias Wissmann, President of Germany’s manufacturer association VDA, swears up and down that Volkswagen is a lone oinker, and that all other German automakers are clean. “Manipulating software to beautify emission readings is a sole Volkswagen matter,” the chief lobbyist told Wirtschaftswoche. „Suppliers and other makers have declared that they aren’t practicing emissions-beautification via software. We firmly assume that what they say is true. Other German automakers have not fiddled with the software.”