Will the Volkswagen diesel-gate scandal help Tesla Motors? [Infographic]

Silicon Valley is home to electric vehicle industry game-changer Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA). Suddenly, it seems that the German automotive conglomerate, Volkswagen Group, has taken notice of the disruptive electric vehicle strategy from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Last week, Electrek reports that, "[Volkswagen Group] CEO Matthias Müller will introduce a new strategy for the company this summer and it will include plans to introduce 20 new electric vehicles through the group’s brands by the end of the decade. Müller confirmed the news in somewhat of a confrontational manner. He said: 'The automotive future should not be left to Silicon Valley.'" 

Why would Volkswagen Group announce such a bold, new strategy? In a much publicized scandal last September, the Volkswagen Group (which includes the likes of Audi, Porsche, and Bentley) was essentially caught cheating emissions tests by making it seem that certain cars produced far fewer emissions than was actually the case. The story broke when the US Environmental Agency discovered that many of Volkswagen’s diesel cars emitted up to 40 times more fumes than the permitted limit. Volkswagen achieved this through the installation of software (known as the ‘defeat device’), which could sense it was running under test conditions and alter its performance accordingly.

In response to the scandal, Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk publicly made an official statement (see below) to local press in Belgium: "What Volkswagen is really showing is that we've reached the limit of what's possible with diesel and gasoline. And so the time has come to move to a new generation of technology." 

Source: Deredacte BE

Since that statement, Musk signed a letter sent to California emissions regulators, urging them to abandon the plan to force Volkswagen to fix their emissions-cheating cars and instead require that the company put the resources it would take to accomplish that into transitioning to a zero-emissions car company. The letter stated: “A giant sum of money [will] be wasted in attempting to fix cars that cannot all be fixed, and where the fix may be worse than the problem if the cars are crushed well before the end of their useful lives,” the letter reads. “Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero-emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify.”

Many feel that this scandal will help Tesla and push more automakers to produce more electric vehicles. According to Fortune, "it will be more difficult for investors and regulators to forgive the likes of Volkswagen. We are entering an era of cataclysmic innovation that will force many automakers out of business and others to abandon their incremental tweaking of technologies like the diesel engine. If not, they will suffer injury at the hands of regulators, and eventually fall prey to the ravenous innovators of Silicon Valley." And according to an article in the Guardian, "Could the Volkswagen scandal power an electric car breakthrough... Volkswagen may have just given those eager to disrupt the automobile market the necessary incentive to step up their game."

In any event, this infographic* cuts through all of the stories and rumors about the scandal to give you the facts about what happened and the effect Volkswagen’s actions have had on the environment. The infographic concludes with an image of a Tesla Model S along with predictions that the VW diesel-gate scandal may help companies like Tesla Motors and other automakers that focus on electric vehicles.

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*Infographic: Select Car Leasing; Photos: Auto Zeitung