Faster, Higher, Farther | Jack Ewing

Summary of: Faster, Higher, Farther: How One of the World’s Largest Automakers Committed a Massive and Stunning Fraud
By: Jack Ewing


In the book ‘Faster, Higher, Farther’, Jack Ewing uncovers the thrilling rollercoaster ride of Volkswagen’s rise to global automotive dominance and its fall owing to the infamous emissions scandal. Discover how VW evolved from Hitler’s ‘people’s car’ to a cutting-edge automobile behemoth engineered masterfully by Ferdinand Piëch. Dive into the company’s aggressive advertising campaign that boosted ‘Think Small’, leading to record-breaking VW Bug sales. Subject yourself to the menacing ambitions of Martin Winterkorn while witnessing the development of the illegal ‘defeat device’, exposing the world to VW’s environmentally hazardous tactics.

Volkswagen’s Diesel Scandal

Jack Ewing’s “Faster, Higher, Farther” exposes Volkswagen’s fraudulent behavior regarding diesel cars. The book highlights how Volkswagen falsely advertised their diesel cars as environmentally friendly, using a defeat device to manipulate emission tests. Ewing details the company’s elaborate cover-up attempts, which ultimately cost Volkswagen around $15 billion in the US alone, and potentially $50 billion worldwide. Through his gripping storytelling, Ewing effectively exposes the German carmaker’s unethical practices.

Volkswagen’s Dark Past

The Volkswagen (VW) company has a complex history that began with Hitler’s desire for a “people’s car.” The factory produced military vehicles, weapons, and goods during wartime, with “slave laborers” making up a significant part of the workforce. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle, founded the company, and ignored the forced labor issue. Porsche served jail time, but the company became the biggest dealer franchise in Europe. Ferdinand Piëch, an engineering genius, worked with the Porsche racing program, moved to VW’s Audi division, and gained outsized power. This book reports on Volkswagen’s dark past and its prominent figures.

Piëch’s Volkswagen Success

In 1993, Ferdinand Piëch took over Volkswagen with a vision for total dominance. VW’s sales almost doubled within five years, resulting in a $650 million profit. Piëch’s disruptive leadership style was accepted, as long as he continued to deliver growth. The iconic US “Think Small” campaign increased VW bug sales to a peak of 570,000 in 1970. The campaign became a quintessential example of successful advertising. However, VW faced a challenge with the 1970 US Clean Air Act’s requirement for substantial reductions in carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, and NOx emissions.

The Injustice of Diesel Engines

The US Clean Air Act of 1990 gave regulators the authority to examine emissions from cars on rollers. However, they never tested the diesel engine passenger cars, despite knowing that they produce smog, acid rain, and health hazards. The EPA engineer who re-tested diesel truck emissions on the road was able to fine seven diesel truck manufacturers over a billion dollars for violating the EPA guidelines. Even though they are known to emit less carbon dioxide, the amount of NOx they produce was a serious threat to the environment and health. In conclusion, the article exposes the injustice of disregarding the danger caused by diesel engines.

Volkswagen’s Illegal Ambitions

After Volkswagen’s CEO retired, the supervisory board elected him as chairman, allowing him to resist change. Winterkorn, the new CEO, aimed to sell 10 million cars within a decade and demanded a diesel engine with fuel economy comparable to Toyota’s Prius, causing engineers to manipulate emissions tests. They installed software in the engine control unit that detected when the car was in a lab setting, producing lower emissions than it would under normal road conditions. The engineers and their superiors knew this was illegal, but they continued with their deceitful plans.

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