Faster, Higher, Farther

The Volkswagen Scandal
Narrated by: Joel Richards
Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (190 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A shocking exposé of Volkswagen's fraud by the New York Times reporter who covered the scandal.

In mid-2015 Volkswagen proudly reached its goal of surpassing Toyota as the world's largest automaker. A few months later, the EPA disclosed that Volkswagen had installed software in 11 million cars that deceived emissions-testing mechanisms. By early 2017 VW had settled with American regulators and car owners for $20 billion, with additional lawsuits still looming.

In Faster, Higher, Farther, Jack Ewing rips the lid off the conspiracy. He describes VW's rise from "the people's car" during the Nazi era to one of Germany's most prestigious and important global brands, touted for being "green". He paints vivid portraits of Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch and chief executive Martin Winterkorn, arguing that the corporate culture they fostered drove employees, working feverishly in pursuit of impossible sales targets, to illegal methods. Unable to build cars that could meet emissions standards in the United States honestly, engineers were left with no choice but to cheat. Volkswagen then compounded the fraud by spending millions marketing "clean diesel", only to have the lie exposed by a handful of researchers on a shoestring budget, resulting in a guilty plea to criminal charges in a landmark Department of Justice case.

Faster, Higher, Farther reveals how the succeed-at-all-costs mentality prevalent in modern boardrooms led to one of corporate history's farthest-reaching cases of fraud - with potentially devastating consequences.

©2017 Jack Ewing (P)2017 Audible, Inc.
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent recap of VW, its structure and culture

What did you love best about Faster, Higher, Farther?

The research quality is excellent, and the author does not leap to conclusions that aren't fact based. There are some highly technical areas that are overly simplified, but I suppose that keeps non-engineers engaged in the book. The tension and drama of the Porsche and Piech families is brought out in an insightful way.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Clearly, Ferdinand Piëch is the main focus of this book.

Any additional comments?

I have owned and driven at least one VW since 1971. I've built and rebuilt several air cooled (Ghia, Thing, Dune Buggy) and enjoy my '74 Thing and '91 Vanagon camper. My wife enjoyed our '06 Passat VR6 4mo wagon and '11 Tig. My work car is a '14 TDi SEL. In between, there were other cars I try to forget.

The company has been late to the US market in so many ways, and de-contented their US made vehicles below my point of interest. I love the drive and feel of their vehicles, and this book explained how they came off the rails. It will be a steep hill for them to climb in the US.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

All over the road!

While the history of Volkswagen, Porsche, and Ferdinand Peich's life long involvement with both companies was thoroughly enjoyable, I kept feeling like I had mistakenly went back a few chapters, or even started over. I felt the story needed to edited to remain chronological, even if going backwards. As it were, there was the obvious conclusion that the culture of Peich's Volkswagen allowed inviduals to be willing to cheat, or at least feel they needed to cheat. But at storys end, there needed to be a summary of how the scandal effected Volkswagen and Peich, and even how dealing with Obama vs Trump moving forward might change. There needed to be a final tally of the whole fiasco.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting and enlightening

Human factors could make or break an organisation. Also provided a fascinating view on the other side of the Volkswagen name.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Solid writing, a bit dry

3.5 stars. This is a solid book of reporting on the VW scandal (thus far). In explaining the contours of VW's efforts to thwart United States emissions tests, Ewing first places VW in history. The book, after a brief introductory chapter, flashes back to the founding families of VW and Porshe (the Piëch and Porshe families), covering their interests in engineering, their place in Germany and Austria during WWI, the interwar period, and WWII, and the personalities at play. Ewing also gives highlights of each car company's products, explanation of some of the engineering behind advances, and a broad portrait of how the larger companies were run.

With this as foundation, we eventually find ourselves moving forward into the present day. We are given background of how the car business was changing, the competition for new markets, and the impact of oil prices and environmental concerns on both. That background, along with the knowledge of how VW was run (and the personality, in particular, of Ferdinand Piëch), sets the stage for the scandal that hit the newspapers a few years back and is still playing out in court (both the legal courts and the court of public opinion).

In the end, this is half history and half story of corporate hubris and recklessness. The book is interesting, but not necessarily gripping. Ewing is very workmanlike, and is clear and easy to understand, but not engaging enough to make this a book you can't put down. A few other reviews have noted that the story is incomplete as we are still in the pendency of legal ramifications (including class actions around the world) and long term PR effects. I agree, and the story just seems to abruptly end. I will at least be able to keep up to date on developments in the case with a lot more understanding than I used to have, but I can't help but think this book could have waited until the story had fully unfurled.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well-written and comprehensive

Well-written business narrative with good historical perspective. Considerate and unbiased. To understand the scandal, you have to appreciate the context of the situation and the nature of the person(s) who dominated the corporation and its culture. This book delivers both.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, but it takes long to get to the scandal

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, but the first half is way to detailed compared to the scandal part.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Short and unexpected.

Which scene was your favorite?

Scandal part.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Nope.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Very detailed (good) but too long (not so good)

History at the beginning is much too long. I got through 2 hours and gave up. I was disappointed because I am very interested in what happened.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really interesting story

Very well done. Interesting story, great background on the issue and the author did a nice job of keeping me entertained throughout.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Very well researched but too long


This is an important book yet parts of that appear redundant and is the point of the book or points of the book could have been stated in fewer pages. I’d like to give it five stars but it is so long-unnecessarily so. Basically progeny of a friend of Hitler’s and his relatives who would no doubt extra engineers, deceived the world into thinking that they had reduced NOX compounds In diesel passenger vehicles when actually they were putting 40 times as much as they should have been. A true travesty. Polluting the world 40 times greater than it was being pulled over there at all in the name of greed and dynasty

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A must listen if you care about the auto industry

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the VW scandal but I now realize it was much worse than I realized. While the book is a little light on some of the details of the auto industry in the earlier part of the book, leaving out details in an effort not to be boring, it does a good job of describing the culture and mismanagement that led to this deception. it is not too heavy or technical that someone that knows little about the auto industry can follow the details.