May 3, 2017 / 6:40 AM / 5 months ago

VW in talks with E.ON, Gazprom on gas-powered cars -Mueller on ORF

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller attends an event ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show, in Shanghai, China April 18, 2017. Picture taken April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

(This version of the May 3 story has been officially corrected to say E.ON, not Exxon, in headline and first paragraph after VW amends CEO’s original statement)

VIENNA (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is in talks with E.ON (EONGn.DE) and Gazprom (GAZP.MM) to back its efforts to promote cars running on natural gas, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told Austria’s ORF radio.

Europe’s biggest carmaker is working on a shift toward electric cars and fuel-saving technologies as it looks to lower its fleet-wide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and to overcome its diesel emissions scandal.

“We are now really trying to think out of the box and find solutions that can be helpful at least in this transition period of 10 to 20 years,” Mueller said in the interview aired on Wednesday.

Separately, Mueller reiterated his opposition to offering payments to European customers affected by VW’s emissions cheating.

In the United States, VW has agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and compensation payouts since admitting in September 2015 to cheating on federal diesel emissions tests.

“This is a system-relevant company and it’s my task to ensure that this will continue to be the case,” Mueller said. “I will do nothing that disregards legal framework conditions and jeopardizes the company.”

Regarding divestments, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that VW is considering a possible sale of Italian motorcycle maker Ducati.

In a separate comments in Austria’s Kurier newspaper, Mueller sidestepped the Ducati question, saying a company like VW must always review its portfolio and that includes acquisitions as well as sales.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer in Frankfurt, Shadia Nasralla in Vienna; editing by Jason Neely

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