VW says only small group to blame for emissions scandal

Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:03pm EST
 
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By Andreas Cremer

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) said on Thursday only a small group of employees was responsible for cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests and there was no indication board members were involved in the biggest business crisis in the carmaker's history.

Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said investigations into the affair were going well, but the scandal was the result of a "chain of errors" and it would still take months to say which individuals were to blame.

Europe's biggest motor manufacturer said it had agreed steps to improve oversight of engine-software development to avoid any future emissions test manipulations.

It also hoped to reach agreement with U.S. environmental authorities in the next few days or weeks so the company can start to recall affected cars there. Cooperation with those authorities was described as "excellent".

VW admitted in September it had cheated U.S. emissions tests and installed software capable of deceiving regulators on up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, news that wiped billions of euros off its market value and forced out its long-time CEO.

Some U.S. lawmakers were heavily critical of the company in the following days when it blamed a handful of rogue engineers, even though investigations were only getting underway.

But VW's reputation was given a boost on Wednesday when it said another scandal involving the understatement of carbon dioxide emissions was not as bad as feared.

"One could argue they should have revealed what they know a lot sooner than two-and-a-half months after the crisis started, but they are raising their game now," said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management think-tank.   Continued...

 
People listen to Volkswagen (VW) Chief Executive Matthias Mueller during a news conference in Wolfsburg, Germany December 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Nigel Treblin