Volkswagen is planning a major recall to refit millions of diesel-engined cars affected by software that can fiddle exhaust-emissions tests.
New chief executive Matthias Müller says a project team has put together “a comprehensive action plan” and will inform customers shortly about refitting their vehicles.
In a letter to employees, Müller and Bernd Osterloh, head of union-dominated works council, say they will make a thorough investigation of the emissions-cheating scandal. “We will be relentless in getting to the bottom of this – fast, open and as decisively as possible,” they say.
Volkswagen adds it will submit its technical solutions to regulators and environmental authorities for approval in October, and set up websites to inform affected customers about their vehicles.
The company says about 11 million vehicles have the software installed, but this has not necessarily activated. The total includes about five million Volkswagens, 2.1m Audis, 1.2m Skodas and and 1.8m light commercial vehicles. VW’s Spanish unit, Seat, says about 700,000 of its diesel models are affected. The call-back will affect models fitted with group’s EA 189 diesel engines.
Müller has also addressed a group of more than 1,000 Volkswagen managers and called on them to change the corporate culture. “Nothing can justify deception and manipulation,” he is reported to have said. “The aim is to regain lost confidence – this requires an uncompromising and consistent clarification,” and enhanced compliance and governance structures.
Christian Buhlmann, Volkswagen’s spokesman for technical issues, says the refitting will involve a change of software and possible hardware changes. “This will be the biggest service action in the company’s history,” he adds, although it has yet to be determined how many vehicles need refitting.
Software updating can be performed quickly while hardware changes involving replacement of a fuel-injection pump will take “at most a few hours”.
The company expects carbon-dioxide emissions and fuel consumption to minimally rise as a result of the software switch while remaining within environmental standards.
Sales of the group’s vehicles with EA 189 engines are being halted in a growing number of European countries, such as Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, while prosecutors in Sweden are considering opening an investigation on potential corruption.