Monday

22nd Apr 2019

Investigation

VW will not publish emissions cheat report

  • Mueller: 'We ourselves have the closest interest in learning everything about both the causes and the responsibilities in this matter' (Photo: Screenshot Volkswagen livestream)

Volkswagen is keeping an interim report into the emissions fraud confidential, Volkswagen Group boss Matthias Mueller said on Thursday (28 April).

“I would like to assure you that despite comments to the contrary nothing is being hushed up or concealed at Volkswagen,” Mueller told investors and press at the company's annual press conference in Wolfsburg.

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  • The emissions scandal has had a "very painful" effect on Volkswagen's financial results (Photo: cosmo flash)

VW has asked US law firm Jones Day to find out who was responsible for installing the software into 11 million cars that allowed the car maker to cheat on emissions tests.

While the company's leadership has received the report's findings, Mueller said “to our regret our legal counsels have strongly advised against disclosure” because it would “present an unacceptable risk” to Europe's largest car manufacturer.

He said the diesel emissions scandal, which emerged in September 2015, had had a “very painful” effect on Volkswagen's financial results in what “otherwise would have been a good year”.

The company had to put €16.2 billion aside under “special items” to pay for fixing the affected diesel cars, a buy-back scheme in the US and “legal risk”.

The Volkswagen Group also recognised the effect the scandal has had on sales of cars with the Volkswagen brand. It made 15 percent less money on Volkswagen cars. Other brands of the group, like Audi and Skoda, were less affected.

Mueller said the company wanted to make sure something similar never happened again.

“We ourselves have the closest interest in learning everything about both the causes and the responsibilities in this matter,” said Mueller.

He and his colleagues spoke consistently of “the diesel issue” or “the emissions issue”, consciously avoiding words like “cheating”, “fraud”, or “defeat device”, the software which recognised cars were being tested.

Several top managers have already left the firm as a result of the scandal, including CEO Martin Winterkorn.

According to Volkswagen Group's annual report, also published on Thursday, Winterkorn and three others received in total €41 million in termination benefits. They also received bonuses, with Winterkorn pocketing an additional €9 million.

The current board of managers however agreed last week to cut their bonuses by 30 percent.

They made the announcements after media reports suggested they were reluctant to lose out financially.

Asked about the issue of bonuses, Mueller said: "I understand that the public is interested in this matter, but what I don't understand is that the whole discussion became a public matter."

Earlier in the press conference, he had already noted that Volkswagen's “most important currency is our credibility and the trust in our brand and our products and in Volkswagen itself”. Mueller said regaining that trust was the company's “most important task” in the coming months.

But also on Thursday, the Brussels-based consumer lobby organisation Beuc said consumer trust in the car industry was waning. It released a statement asking Volkswagen to better inform car owners about the recall of affected vehicles and provide compensation, like is being offered in the US.

“Volkswagen should not get away with treating European car owners as second-class customers,” the organisation said.

But Mueller repeated on Thursday that Volkswagen was not planning to offer Europeans compensation. The firm argued that once European cars are refitted, there will be no loss of value or lower performance.

“The refit doesn't change the value of the car. We think we will not be required to use a repurchasing scheme for Europe,” said board member Herbert Diess.

Dieselgate: Looking under the hood

EUobserver will closely follow the hearings and research done by the EU parliament's inquiry committee, as well as investigate aspects of the diesel emissions scandal not covered by the committee's mandate.

How the car industry won the EU's trust

Car companies are allowed to do carry out some testing of their own products thanks to some little-noticed legislation inspired by an industry-backed report.

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