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VW to draw-up emissions crisis plan

2015-10-07 15:55

RESCUE MISSION: New VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller has started the challenging task of getting the company out of hot water.Image: AFP / John Doughall

Berlin -The 20-member Volkswagen board is meeting on Wednesday to draw up an emergency action plan to help steer the embattled automaker out of the emissions testing crisis  that has rocked the group.

VW also has until the end of Wednesday to submit to Germany's transport authority a timetable for modifying about 11 million diesel-powered vehicles equipped with illegal software aimed at cheating on exhaust tests around the world.

The automaker will begin recalling the cars fitted with the software in January with the aim of completing the process by the end of next year, the company's new chief executive Matthias Mueller told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Wednesday.

To cost VW billions

The former head of VW's luxury sports brand, Porsche, Mueller took over last month from Martin Winterkorn, who resigned as group chief in the wake of the scandal that could cost the company more than 18 billion dollars in fines in the US alone.

New VW CEO tells staff: Changes won't be painless

Based in the northern German city of Wolfsburg, VW has said that 2.8 million of the vehicles fitted around the world with the software are in Germany.

Meanwhile, the District Court in the nearby city of Braunschweig on Wednesday gave the green light to the appointment of VW finance chief Dieter Poetsch as the group's new supervisory board chairman at the request of the board's five-member executive committee, a court spokeswoman told dpa.

The court, however, said Poetsch's appointment is only valid until the company holds its next annual general meeting, a date for which has still not been set.

VW last week cancelled an extraordinary annual general meeting set down for next month.

Is SA affected?

VWSA says: "There has been extensive international media coverage relating to irregularities in Nitrogen oxide emission values measured during dynamometer regarding the emission standard Euro 5 of Volkswagen diesel vehicles fitted with the type EA189 Euro 5 engines.

"In South Africa the compliance standard is EU 2. All Volkswagen Group diesel vehicles of the type EA 189 retailed in South Africa, that is, Volkswagen passenger, Audi, light and medium commercial vehicles, comply with this standard for Nitrogen oxide emissions.

"We would like to apologise to our customers for any uncertainty that may have been created over this issue and want to assure our valued customers, that their vehicles meet all the legal requirements in terms of which the National Regulator approved the sale for use in South Africa.

"There is therefore no action required on either the part of the customer or our dealers."

Read: Emissions scandal: VW South Africa responds

Piech and Porsche families

The company's major shareholders - the Piech and Porsche families - secured the backing of the board's five-member executive committee last week for Poetsch's appointment, despite reservations expressed by the group's unions, sections of the media and shareholder activist groups.

Poetsch sees scandal as threat to VW's viability

The company decided to press on with Poetsch's appointment despite questions having been raised over whether he was the best candidate for the post because he had been finance chief since 2003, which was the period when the emission manipulations were alleged to have taken place.

The unions argued that the company should use the chance of appointing a new board chairman to signal a fresh orientation in the automaker's efforts to restore global trust in the wake of the scandal.

A former head of the IG Metall engineering union, Berthold Huber, has been acting chairman since April following the resignation of Ferdinand Piech as a result of a power struggle at the company.

The supervisory board includes key VW shareholders, management and union representatives.

VW shares surged 4.65% in morning trading on the Frankfurt Stock Market as the board met at the company's sprawling headquarters in Wolfsburg.

Investigation continues

Wednesday's board meeting also came one day before VW US chief Michael Horn is set to appear before an investigations panel of the US House of Representatives energy and commerce committee to answer questions on the scandal, which first emerged in the US at the start of September.

The problem for VW in preparing a strategy to deal with the crisis is that the affair is now in the hands of lawyers around the world, as a result making it difficult for the company to estimate the final cost of the scandal.

While prosecutors in VW's key global markets have launched investigations into the group, individual shareholders and customers have also begun taking legal action against the company.

On Wednesday, a German VW customer sued the automaker for damages in the wake of the scandal, saying she wanted to return her car to the group and get her money back.

More on VW emissions scandal:

New VW CEO tells staff: Changes won't be painless
Emissions scandal: VW's S.Korea sales fall 7.8%
Poetsch sees scandal as threat to VW's viability
Sweden to send VW pollution tax bill?
Emissions scandal: Volkswagen recall 'likely'
Volkswagen scandal: UK sales suspended
VW crisis: 700 000 SEAT cars affected too
Emissions scandal: Affected VWs to be recalled
VW's German hometown 'freezes' budget
Diesel crisis: 2.1 million Audis affected
VW's diesel crisis: 'I want to turn in my vehicle'
'Tsunami' of legal trouble for VW emissions saga
Emissions scandal: Now SA affected?
Emissions scandal: How VW's 'defeat device' works
Emissions scandal: BMW implicated?
VW to start firings over emissions scandal


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