This year has been awash with financial and business intrigue and excitement. Here, then, are my awards for the most fascinating stories of 2015, with the added bonus that the qualifying events have implications that will reverberate into 2016 and beyond.
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR — VOLKSWAGEN
The news that Volkswagen, that exemplar of straitlaced German engineering, has spent years telling what we Brits call “porky pies” about its diesel emissions was a corporate shocker of the highest order. As well as wiping a fifth off the company’s market value, the scandal has trashed demand for VW’s diesel cars since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed the deception in September. The company sold just 887 diesel vehicles last month, down from more than 10,000 in July, as shown in this data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence’s Brandon Barnes:
Environmental groups had long suspected that emissions tests were underestimating the nitrogen oxide output of diesel engines. Volkswagen’s malfeasance is likely to accelerate the disappearance of diesel powertrains in the auto industry. It may also hasten the disappearance of the internal combustion engine itself, as Toyota expands its efforts to build the infrastructure for its hydrogen cars while Elon