Volkswagen’s new boss Matthias Mueller began trying to pull the embattled carmaker out of the wreckage of a pollution test rigging scandal today, as the United States and Switzerland banned the sale of the group’s new diesel cars.
The 62-year-old former Porsche chief Matthias Mueller was tapped Friday to replace Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over stunning revelations by US environmental authorities that the German carmaker had fitted some of its diesel cars with software capable of cheating environmental tests.
The scale of VW’s deception became clear when the company admitted that 11 million of its diesel cars are equipped with so-called defeat devices that covertly turn off pollution controls when the car is being driven — and back on when tests are being conducted.
The scam could lead to fines worth more than USD 18 billion (16.1 billion euros), while the German giant has already seen billions of euros wiped off its stocks this week.
Mueller has pledged an “unsparing investigaton and maximum transparency” in his bid to restore confidence in the Volkswagen Group.
“We will overcome this crisis,” he said Friday, adding that the carmaker could “emerge stronger from the crisis in the long term” if it learned from its mistakes.
For now however, the crisis shows no sign of abating with the US environmental regulator refusing to authorise the sale of Volkswagen’s new diesel models.
Volkswagen introduced its new 2016 Passat — which includes a diesel version — in New York on Monday just as the scandal over cheating on pollution controls broke.
At that event Volkswagen America’s chief executive, Michael Horn, said the company “totally screwed up”.
Switzerland also temporarily suspended the sale of new Volkswagen diesel-engine models on Friday.
France and Britain have announced new checks and the European Union has urged its 28 member states to investigate whether vehicles in their countries complied with pollution rules.