“The situation is not dramatic, but it is intense… We are fighting for every customer and every car,” says VW CEO Matthias Müller.
Last Thursday Volkswagen gave the most detailed admission about the emissions scandal so far, during a press conference in Germany. Hans Dieter Pötsch, the VW chairman, and CEO Matthias Müller spoke on behalf of the troubled company and then (sort of) answered questions.
We now know that around 450 internal and external investigators are currently looking into the scandal and they’ve already filtered through the equivalent of 50 million books in company data. They also revealed that investigators have seized 1,500 storage devices, such as smartphones and laptops, for inspection from 400 staff members and another 2,000 have been told not to delete any data. Pötsch did point out that this does not mean all 400 are under investigation.
Pötsch said the company are “relentlessly searching for those responsible for what happened and you may rest assured we will bring these persons to account”. (We may be resting assured for a few months yet.) It’s still not known whether any board members knew or took part in the scandal, but VW remain adamant that it seems to have stopped with management level. “It has become apparent that we can assume that a relatively small group of people actually made mistakes, acted irresponsibly. There are no indications that the supervisory board was involved,” says Pötsch.
Both men added that the scandal was a result of a “whole chain” of errors, rather than a “one-off” mistake. Although no details or names were given of those suspected to be responsible, we do know that nine members of management have been suspended. And we are glad however, that VW acknowledged their earlier claim of “it was the fault of a couple of engineers” was not how the scandal began.
Whilst this is the most information the German auto makers have given the public so far, they also told listeners that they will not be able to report any in-depth results – translation: any results of real public interest – of the investigation for some time. The findings of the external investigation particularly may not be revealed for several more months.
Since the conference, VW’s shares have risen 3% and the extreme sales slump some feared has not arrived. Müller also reminded us of the ‘good’ news that VW has a “robust solution” to fix all the EA 189 diesel engines caught up in the scandal, although there is still no fix for the engines in the U.S, where the emissions standards are much stricter.
It looks like we’ll be waiting a while longer before we know all the answers.
Screenshots taken from the conference video.