Troubled German car company Volkswagen has finally admitted that its diesel emissions scandal was the result of many failures within the company and that it was not just simply the misdoings of a small number of corrupt engineers. The emissions scandal affected more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, and the company is spending billions of dollars to fix the problem.
According to Volkswagen chairperson Hans Dieter Pötsch, there was a “whole chain” of errors within the company. Most notably, there existed a mindset and a culture that accepted both rule breaking and the cutting of corners.
Pötsch said that company engineers installed cheating devices into the diesel engines after they realized that they would not be able to achieve emissions targets in the United States without cheating. Since the scandal, nine managers have been suspended for their possible involvement. However, Pötsch believes that no senior executives were actively involved in the unethical action.
That being said, Pötsch does feel that the engineers acted in the manner that they did because of the company’s corrupt processes and its widespread tolerance of rule breaking. It is believed that the company had been working on such defeat devices since 2005. This was around the time when Volkswagen started to promote diesel vehicles in the United States.
Pötsch also stated that a 450 person strong internal and external investigation team is currently looking into the matter. He said that more details would be provided in April and the company’s annual meeting. So far, a team led by the Jones Day law firm has interviewed 87 staff members, seized more than 1,500 devices belonging to over 400 different employees and examined massive amounts of data. Pötsch has promised that those responsible for the devices will be held accountable.
For now, the company has promised sweeping changes to ensure that a similar incident does not happen in the future. One major change is that emissions testing will take place on the road rather than in a laboratory. Also, the testing will be verified by independent third parties. Overall, the company is hopeful that it will be able to win back the trust of the public.
Starting next month, the company will start to repair the diesel vehicles that were affected by the scandal. Initially, the vehicles with 2-liter engines will be recalled. In the second quarter of next year, the 1.2 liter vehicles will be recalled. The 1.6 liter vehicles will be recalled in the third quarter.
In the United States, the recall will be more difficult because of tighter emissions standards. The company will also have to develop a compensation package for car owners to cover any declines in the resale values of their cars.