Volkswagen chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch told reporters this week that everything would be on the table and nothing related to the emissions cheating scandal plaguing the automaker would be “swept under the carpet.”
The pledge of transparency came during a press conference in Germany Thursday where Volkswagen Group executives provided the first detailed commentary on the status of its internal investigations.
“We will be relentless in seeking to establish who was responsible,” Poetsch said, noting that nine executives have already been suspended.
Approximately 450 internal and external experts are involved in the investigations, which are being conducted in two phases.
He said an internal review is focused on investigating relevant processes, reporting and monitoring systems, and the associated infrastructure. Those findings will be presented to the external experts of Jones Day.
VW’s Supervisory Board has given Jones Day a parallel mandate to completely clarify the facts and responsibilities and conduct a forensic investigation.
Poetsch told the gathering that emissions cheating can be traced to three factors: an attitude that would tolerate “breaches of rules;” individual failures; and flaws in particular processes.
The update, which also featured VW Group communications head Hans-Gerd Bode, and VW Group chairman Matthias Müller, reported that roughly 100 terabytes of data has been secured. More than 1,500 electronic data storage units have been collected from approximately 380 employees.
Volkswagen said it plans to provide a status update on the external investigation at its AGM on April 21.
It also noted that future emissions tests would be evaluated independently. In addition, randomly selected real-life tests to assess emissions behaviour on the road will be introduced.
“We hope that this will help Volkswagen regain lost trust,” Pötsch added.
As reported on Wednesday, initial suspicions of carbon-dioxide emissions discrepancies proved to affect a much smaller number than originally reported. Potential affected units fell from an estimated 800,000 to roughly 36,000.
Technical solutions for European variants of the EA 189 engine type have been devised and approved by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority. Implementation is expected to start sometime in January 2016.
“The costs of implementing these solutions will be manageable in technical, manufacturing and financial terms,” the company said.
“The software of the 2.0 and 1.2 liter TDI will be updated. For the 1.6 liter TDI, a so-called flow transformer will be used that increases the measurement precision and, in combination with redesigned software, will optimize injection quantity.”
The recall of the highest-volume variant, the 2.0 liter TDI, will begin in January. The recall of the 1.2 liter TDI is currently scheduled to begin in the second quarter.
The implementation phase for the 1.6-liter models is planned to begin in the third quarter to allow time to prepare for the hardware modification.
Under the current plan, the entire initiative will take at least all of calendar year 2016.
“Volkswagen will not rest until this matter has been resolved once and for all to our customers’ satisfaction,” Müller said, noting the company guarantees solutions will be implemented free of charge.
Due to far stricter nitrogen oxide limits in North America, it is a greater technical challenge to retrofit the vehicles such that all applicable emissions limits can be met with one and the same emissions strategy.
To this end, Volkswagen said it is cooperating closely with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
The solution designed for North America will be presented as soon as it has been approved by the responsible authorities. In addition, Volkswagen has initiated development of a new strategic target: Strategy 2025. The plan will address the main issues for the future and should be presented in mid-2016.
“We are realigning Volkswagen strategically and technologically,” Müller explained. “Our goal is to courageously and decisively participate in shaping the future of mobility.”