Volkswagen admits a ‘chain of errors’

Marketplace Staff Dec 10, 2015

From our partners at the BBC:

The chairman of embattled carmaker Volkswagen says a chain of errors led to the emissions scandal and that its top priority is winning back trust.

Speaking at a news conference, Hans Dieter Poetsch said: “We are talking here not about a one-off mistake but a chain of errors.”

He said VW would be “relentless in seeking to establish who was responsible” for the scandal.

VW’s chief executive said it was “fighting for every customer”.

But Matthias Mueller said a massive slump in sales had not occurred in the wake of the scandal.

In September, U.S. regulators found some VW diesel cars had a “defeat device” — or software — to cheat emissions tests.

The company said the problem began when Volkswagen decided to launch a large-scale promotion of diesel vehicles in the US in 2005, but found it impossible to meet strict emissions limits in force in that country in time.

The company said it had agreed steps to improve supervision of engine software development to prevent future manipulation.

Mr Mueller said it was relatively simple and inexpensive to fix the millions of affected cars, but this had not been possible before, as the technology for the fixes was not available when the cars were built. In any case, the company was unaware at the time that there was a problem.

Volkswagen will in future undertake “real-life” tests, which will be checked by both internal and external third parties.

Mr Poetsch said: “No business justifies crossing legal and ethical boundaries.”

‘Good Progress’

He said it was likely that only a limited number of people took part in the deception and said they would not be named as yet, adding that it was impossible to stop misconduct by individuals.

He said, however, that the actions taken by the company would make that much more difficult in future.

U.S. law firm Jones Day is conducting an external investigation into what happened. That, Mr Poetsch said, was making good progress, but would take some time to conclude.

The cheat device affects up to 11 million cars worldwide.

The damage to the company has seen its chief executive resign and about 13 percent has been knocked off the company’s value on the stock markets.


We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.