The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a San Diego-based Audi owner, alleges that VW falsely marketed the cars as “eco-friendly”, leading consumers to pay a premium.
Since then, the company’s fortunes – and its share price – have crashed amid a scandal over rigged emissions tests.
On Friday, however, it said the vehicles include 5 million cars made by the core Volkswagen brand – with models such as the sixth-generation Golf, seventh-generation Passat and first-generation Tiguan containing the engines concerned.
“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation”.
They reported their findings to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board in May 2014, but VW stalled by blaming the problem on technical issues.
It added that the new testing procedures will be more vigorous to prevent automakers from cheating, and will more closely approximate the emissions from a vehicle in real-world driving conditions.
Volkswagen has said 11 million cars globally had the software fitted, but it was not activated in the bulk of them.
Porsche’s Matthias Mueller is expected to be named the new CEO of Volkswagen.
“But I don’t see it as playing foul, rather as a sign of perseverance and mettle”, the daily quoted him as saying.
The VW Supervisory Board already indicated Wednesday that, next to Winterkorn’s departure, there would likely to be a further top management shakeup.
More immediately, the new CEO will have to restore the confidence of customers and motor dealers, who have expressed frustration at a lack of information about how they will be affected by the scandal.
Former chairman Ferdinand Piech resigned in April after losing a leadership battle with Winterkorn, who he all but publicly criticized the former chief exec for his performance at VW.
This distinction between “engineering to the test” and outright cheating is critical to understanding the gravity of Volkswagen’s predicament.
Last week, the EPA found that Volkswagen had falsified pollution tests on 482,000 VW and Audi diesel cars in the U.S.
The 68-year-old said he accepted responsibility as chief executive but was “not aware of any wrongdoing”.
HOW to steer Volkswagen out of its deepening crisis?
Having unsuccessfully attempted to satisfy the EPA with a software update, VW now faces repairs to bring affected cars back into compliance, which could run thousands of dollars per vehicle, or as much as $18 billion, and even potentially reduce interior space.
Norway’s economic crimes unit said Friday a fraud probe had been opened into the pollution cheating scandal, while India said it was doing likewise.
France announced sample checks on diesel cars as soon as next week, after the European Union urged its 28 member states to investigate whether vehicles in their countries comply with European pollution rules.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced yesterday that diesel cars would be re-tested in the UK.
“It is unacceptable that the Government waited this long to take action”.
Standard & Poor’s and Fitch have warned they may cut Volkswagen’s credit rating over the pollution cheating scandal, which could increase the company’s financing costs.