This news comes after the German company confirmed it had cheated diesel emissions tests in the United States. It had failed to distinguish between the process of opening a case file, and the launch of a formal preliminary investigation following confirmation of initial grounds for suspicion. How the company will react was among the topics on the table when the board’s leadership panel met late into the night on Wednesday with Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller.
Volswagen said: “Step by step, affected customers will be contacted, with details of a process to get their vehicles corrected in the near future”. VW has pushed hard over the past 10 years to become the world’s largest automobile manufacturer and it has achieved that landmark by appealing to the masses.
Reuters reports that Volkswagen sales “increased by just 0.56 percent to 26,141 vehicles, showing the effect of the halt in sales” of the 4-cylinder diesel cars that were found to have been outfitted with “defeat devices” in order to pass emissions tests.
Supervisory board member Olaf Lies said “those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software – they acted criminally”.
On Tuesday, the carmaker said owners of the affected cars would be notified “in the next weeks and months”, adding that “all the brands concerned are going to create Internet pages where clients will be able to follow developments”.
German prosecutors have no evidence of wrongdoing by former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn in connection with the carmaker’s rigging of emissions tests, they said in a statement on Thursday, clarifying previous comments.
VW has admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with the software.
Volkswagen has said it will set aside over $7 billion to cover the necessary service measures and perform public relations damage control for projected losses to its reputation.
Now, lawyers across the US are jockeying to move class-action lawsuits, expected to number in the hundreds, before one federal judge for a long-running case.
Prosecutors are pursuing a wider investigation against unnamed employees at Volkswagen with the aim of establishing who was responsible.
The business tax VW has to pay – calculated on the basis of its annual turnover – is a significant source of revenue for the town’s coffers. Attorneys general in more than half the states also are opening investigations into the automaker and what appears to be longstanding fraud.