How “Dieselgate” Changed Volkswagen: Rushing to Erase the Traces of Greenwashing

Bilgin Turna G.

in: Socially Responsible Consumption and Marketing in Practice, J. Bhattacharyya,M.S. Balaji,Y. Jiang,J. Azer,C. Hewege (Eds.), Editor, Springer, Singapore, pp.255-273, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Other Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: Springer
  • City: Singapore
  • Page Numbers: pp.255-273
  • Editors: J. Bhattacharyya,M.S. Balaji,Y. Jiang,J. Azer,C. Hewege (Eds.), Editor
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


  • This case focuses on Volkswagen Group’s strategies between September 2015 and April 2021 following the guidelines of the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” In 2015, German automaker Volkswagen (VW) had admitted to cheating 11 million of diesel vehicles around the world to circumvent emissions tests in the USA and elsewhere. “Dieselgate”, one of the costliest corporate scandals in the history of contemporary automotive industry, was interpreted as “greenwashing.” After that, “Independent Sustainability Council” was formed to give recommendations to VW and “Together 2025 + Strategy” was announced in 2016 to make the VW Group more customer-oriented. VW was a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) since 2002 and was withdrawn in November 2015 due to “Dieselgate.” Ever since, VW continued to report in accordance with UNGC’s requirements and in February 2021, VW was reinstated as a participant. Change at the top management, change in culture, and change in company strategies helped the company regain its reputation back. The company seems to have survived the scandal since it has been focusing, more than ever, on “sustainability” delivering value for the stakeholders by socially and environmentally responsible vehicles and practices. Stakeholder theory and image restoration theory offer a framework for Volkswagen’s sustainable marketing strategies.