CNN puts it into perspective:
Here are seven key facts that show what’s at stake:
1. The Volkswagen group accounts for roughly one in 10 vehicles sold globally*.
2. The auto industry is the largest industrial sector in Germany, contributing about 2.7% to gross domestic product.
3. Some 20% of Germany’s exports are made up of vehicles and parts.
4. Domestic auto sales and exports were worth 368 billion euros ($411 billion) in 2014.
5. Most German auto sales came from the Volkswagen group, which reported just over 202 billion euros in revenue in 2014.
6. Roughly 70% of Volkswagen vehicles are sold outside German borders.
7. Volkswagen employs nearly 600,000 people around the world, and more than a third of the 775,000 people who work in the auto industry in Germany.
The CEO of Volkswagen US just admitted that the company “screwed up”. If it were only ein Fehler—a mistake—it would be bad enough. It’s ein Verbrechen—a crime. He’s acting as though somebody inadvertently didn’t tighten a lug nut enough.