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New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller has announced there will be a swift and relentless clarification of the diesel emissions scandal, the first step in a long road towards recovering the brand’s image and reputability in the eyes of consumers.

Addressing more than 20,000 employees at a works meeting in Wolfsburg, Müller said that solidity, reliability and credibility belonged to the essence of the Volkswagen brand, and that was something that had to be restored.

“Our most important task will therefore be to win back the trust we have lost – with our customers, partners, investors and the general public. Only when everything has been put on the table, when no single stone has been left unturned, only then will people begin to trust us again,” Müller told the VW staff in attendance.

Müller made it clear that “apart from the enormous financial damage, which it is still not possible to quantify as of today, this crisis is first and foremost a crisis of confidence. That is because it is about the very core of our company and our identity: it is about our vehicles.”

matthias-muller

The CEO asked employees for their understanding, saying that he, too, did not yet have the answer to many questions, but said that “in this situation, where we are dealing with four brands and many model variants, care is even more important than speed.”

He said that a project team had drawn up an action plan, and that technical solutions for customers are imminent – the automaker will soon present these technical solutions to the responsible authorities, in particular the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), for approval.

Affected customers, meanwhile, will be informed that the emissions characteristics of their vehicles will be upgraded. Müller added that in many instances, a software update will be sufficient, but some vehicles will also require hardware modifications. The automaker promised to keep its customers constantly informed about the measures and arrange workshop appointments.

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Despite all these measures, Müller said it was not possible to quantify the commercial and financial implications brought about by the fiasco at present. As such, the automaker has initiated a further critical review of all planned investments.

“Anything that is not absolutely necessary will be cancelled or postponed. And it is why we will be intensifying the efficiency program. To be perfectly frank: this will not be a painless process,” he explained.

Still, Müller said that there will be no cutting back on the development of key technologies of the future. “We cannot afford to jeopardise this strong position now. We must make massive savings to manage the consequences of this crisis. At the same time, we cannot afford to economise on the future. That is something else we will also be addressing over the coming weeks and months,” he stated.

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