On Friday, the German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said Volkswagen rigged emission tests on about 2.8 million diesel vehicles in Germany, almost six times as many as it has admitted to falsifying in the United States. He also said, however, that “carefulness is even more important than speed”.
“We can only apologize and ask our customers, the public, the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends”.
The German transport ministry this week launched a special investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions scandal that has erased nearly one-third of the company’s market value.
“We take these allegations, and their potential implications for public health and air pollution in the United States, very seriously”, a department spokesman said.
VW later acknowledged that similar software exists in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, but hasn’t given details of the models and their whereabouts.
US regulators could impose fines worth billions of dollars, and prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic are considering launching criminal investigations. The Supervisory Board today commissioned an American law firm to assist in further clarification and in preparing the necessary steps.
The interim chairman of the supervisor board of Volkswagen AG, Berthold Huber, in a statement called Mueller “a person of great strategic, entrepreneurial and social competence”.
Embattled German automaker Volkswagen on Friday tapped an executive from Porsche as the group’s new chief – and pledged a major managerial shakeup as it tries to navigate the backlash over its attempt to get around US emissions regulations.
The 62-year-old Mueller, speaking at a news conference at company headquarters in Wolfsburg on Friday, said his first priority would be to win back trust following a plunge in VW stock and the resignation of long-time CEO Martin Winterkorn earlier this week. Close to the Porsche and Piëch families that control VW, Müller would be seen as a well-qualified compromise candidate acceptable to the unions and lower-level management.
Winfried Vahland will likely take over for the VW brand’s USA chief, Michael Horn, two people familiar with the matter said.
He also confirmed that spot-checks are being carried out on cars made by other manufacturers.
The European Commission urged all member states to investigate the use of so-called defeat devices by carmakers to cheat emissions tests and said there would be “zero tolerance” of any wrongdoing. German rival BMW said on Thursday it had not manipulated tests, after a magazine reported some of its diesel cars were found to exceed emissions standards.
Friday’s board meeting had originally been due to extend the contract of Winterkorn and set out a new management structure.
Mr Winterkorn, who during his eight years in charge oversaw a doubling in Volkswagen’s sales and an almost tripling in profit, said he was shocked that misconduct on such a massive scale had been possible at the company.
The Environmental Protection Agency notified auto manufacturers in a letter saying authorities could require additional tests for “any vehicle” to determine whether it met emission standards under normal road conditions, not just at controlled testing facilities.