Still in the aftermath of September’s emissions scandal, Volkswagen has announced a few details of their future plans. The biggest change will affect the engine-related employees and how long they can do a certain job role before they are ‘rotated’. VW hope this will improve oversight and prevent anything like the scandal happening again.
Hans Dieter Pötsch, VW chairman, told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, “We are planning a rotation principle for certain functions. The employees concerned will spend only a limited time in certain positions before moving on”. Having employees only work for a certain time limit should help the company manage any oversight, but the idea does come with its difficulties.
Pötsch later added: “It’s easier said than done. There are few employees that are able to program an engine control unit. But we have these people across different brands. For example, experts at Audi could switch to Porsche and from Porsche to VW and so on”.
The proposal comes as VW claims only “a small number of engineers” created the ‘defeat devices’ because former CEO Martin Winterkorn put such strong demands on them that they could not deliver. Afraid to tell Winterkorn that his desires were impossible to reach, the engineers created the device to meet the targets set by the now ex-CEO. They’ve also said the cheating came because the strict US emissions standards were ‘impossible’ to reach. Whether these claims are entirely true is to be seen; more will be revealed when the full investigation comes to a close in 2016.
Pötsch touched upon this intimidating culture during the interview, agreeing that VW “need a culture in the entire company that not only tolerates other opinions, but also allows for mistakes. The important thing is that mistakes only happen once”.
VW also claim that there is no indication the board members were involved in the scandal at any point. The company announced that the future engine software will be developed “with a four-eye principle” to improve oversight. Although it still seems incredible that none of the top-level employees knew anything about the devices, hopefully the “four-eye principle” will prevent cheating from happening again.
Alongside VW’s internal investigations and the external probes from hired sources, the EU is also beginning an investigation. The EU has created a committee to, as Reuters reports, “investigate Volkswagen’s emissions scandal and whether regulators failed to prevent cheating by the car industry in vehicle pollution tests”. The committee will look into the alleged breaches of EU law and “maladministration”.