Volkswagen was recently caught using software to cheat on emissions tests in many of its diesel cars, according to the US EPA.
The "defeat device" scandal likely means millions of cars have been belching 10 to 40 times the federal limit of nitrogen oxides emissions for years — and has led some to ponder the future of clean-operating vehicles.
One of the most highly awaited reactions is from Elon Musk, the CEO of electric car company Tesla.
In the Belgian news clip below he's asked how this might impact the public's view of green car technology.
The reporter asks:
What do you think of the Volkswagen scandal? Do you think people might lose their faith in green technology because of that?
I think it's more the opposite, because what what the Volkswagen is really showing is we've reached the limit of what's possible with diesel and gasoline. So the time, I think, has come to move to a new generation of technology.
One can assume that by "a new generation of technology" he means electric cars, like the ones he's building at Tesla Motors.
This kind of reaction from Musk isn't actually surprising. He's spoken out a lot about how we need to push ourselves into the sustainability era sooner rather than later.
Continuing to burn fossil fuels to power our civilization, he says, is tantamount to running "the dumbest experiment in history." That's because, no matter what, we'll have to develop ways to power ourselves without fossil fuels, since we'll run out of them in about 100 years.
And while we are burning through them, we are radically altering the Earth's climate with long-term and potentially devastating impacts.
So in Musk's view, if the Volkswagen scandal helps the public realize that we are hitting a very strict limit to how "green" our cars can be as long as they are still burning fossil fuels, that's probably a good thing in the long run — not just for Tesla, but for humanity.
Scientists who are speculating about Volkswagen's next move seem to agree. Venkat Viswanathan, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon, told Quartz that one potential way for VW to survive would be to pivot into making electric cars.
Here's the news clip about Volkswagen, uploaded to YouTube by EVannex: