VW dieselgate crisis: Winterkorn 'still needs answers'
VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn says the firm is still looking for answers to key questions after it admitted that as many as 11 million vehicles could be affected in its emissions test cheating scandal.
Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn says the firm is still looking for answers to key questions after it admitted that as many as 11 million vehicles could be affected in its emissions test cheating scandal.
In a video address released on the VW media website, Winterkorn admitted, "I don't have answers to all the questions as this moment. We are going to clarify the background unsparingly, and at this very moment, everything is being put on the table as quickly, thoroughly and transparently as possible."
Winterkorn added, "The irregularities with these engines contradict everything for which Volkswagen stands. We want to continue to work closely with the relevant state departments and authorities." And in a clear hint at VW's approach to tracking down the departments and staff who knew about the software that allowed VW engines to perform better than expected in US NOx testing, he added, "I am well aware that much is now questioned. I understand that. But it would be wrong if the hard and honest work of 600,000 people comes under general suspicion because of the bad mistakes of a few. Our team does not deserve this."
The VW CEO also stopped short of saying that the crisis would cost him his own job – despite intense speculation in the German media that the VW supervisory board is planning to replace Winterkorn by the end of this week. The Berlin title Der Taggespiegel has claimed that the board will meet today (Wednesday), ahead of a further conference on Friday that’s expected to ratify the replacement of Winterkorn by Porsche CEO Matthias Muller. Volkswagen has dismissed the rumour as "stupid".
Muller, 62, started his career as an apprentice toolmaker with Audi in 1977 and rose through the ranks to become product manager first for the A3, then for the overall brand.
If the VW supervisory board does indeed approve a change of leadership on Friday, it will be an astonishing change of direction; the officials had been lined up to meet and approve an extension to Winterkorn’s contract (taking it through to 2018) on the same day.
Volkswagen has insisted, meanwhile, that all new European models compliant with EU 6 emissions rules are fully legal. The UK transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has called for the EU Commission to investigate the issue, backing up similar calls from Germany and Italy.
In a new statement issued this morning, the German manufacturer explained that the engine at the centre of the controversy is the Type EA 189 four-cylinder diesel, and VW has said that the notable deviation between emissions results in testing and on-road driving were only for cars fitted with this engine.
But the company also admitted that the engine management software at the centre of the scandal is also installed in other Volkswagen Group diesel engines. However VW believed it doesn’t have an effect in the majority of cars in which it features.
The company moved to reassure consumers in Europe and said: “New vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards.” However, at this point VW hasn't definitively confirmed whether pre-EU6 cars in Europe are affected.
VW has put aside a fund of 6.5 billion euros (approximately Rs 49,686 crore ) to cover the costs of dealing with the issue, and says it will adjust its financial targets for 2015 as a result.
The statement continued: “In addition to this, Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is the top priority of the board of management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers.”
Volkswagen Group boss Martin Winterkorn has apologised for “breaking the trust of our customers and the public” following reports that the company manipulated emissions testing regulations in the USA.
Meanwhile, Michael Horn, CEO and president of the Volkswagen Group of America, has admitted: "Our company was dishonest. We have totally screwed up. We must fix the cars to prevent this from ever happening again and we have to make this right. This kind of behaviour is totally inconsistent with our qualities."
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