Volkswagen’s new chief executive, Matthias Müller, has vowed to win back trust after an emissions scandal that has rocked the car group and seen its market value collapse by a third in a week.
The former Porsche chief (62), who began his career in Audi and enjoys the trust of VW's influential Porsche and Piëch shareholder families, was appointed by the board two days after the resignation of Martin Winterkorn.
“We can and will master this crisis,” said Mr Müller, promising a “ruthless investigation” of the circumstances that led to at least 11 million vehicles – and probably many more – being fitted with software that manipulated emission-test results.
After a week of disastrous news, Germany’s federal transport ministry said on Friday at least 2.8 million German vehicles have problematic diesel engines, ranging from 1.2-litre small cars to 2-litre engines in transporter vans.
VW Group Ireland has no details on how many Irish vehicles are fitted with the engine, though it is estimated to be about 80,000 across the Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat brands.
Volkswagen’s acting chairman,
, said a number of key managers had been put on leave during the investigation of a scandal he called a “moral and political disaster...that shocked Volkswagen as much as the public”.
Friday's marathon board meeting in Wolfsburg didn't end in the predicted large-scale blood-letting, though the group's marketing boss, Christian Klingler, is set to leave "due to differences over business strategy".
The group said it will reorganise its US, Canadian and Mexican markets into one North American region, but US chief
will remain on. Skoda boss
has been appointed VW group brand chief executive and will head the company investigation. The production chief at Porsche,
, is likely to be promoted to chief executive after Mr Müller.
Mr Müller, born in East Germany but raised in Bavaria, started as an apprentice in Audi, working in product management from 1995 with responsiblilty since 2007 for the entire 12-brand VW group.
The Porsche chief of five years was an uncontroversial choice to take over as chief executive. But firm insiders said Friday’s board meeting was marked by disagreement over crisis management and future strategy, issues likely to dominate a November 9th extraordinary shareholder meeting.
The scale of the disaster for Germany was clear from Der Spiegel's cover image, showing pall-bearers carrying a coffin-like Volkswagen under the headline "The Suicide".