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Mueller confirmed as VW boss as crisis deepens

Tough times ahead: Matthias Muller will oversee the brand’s recovery without the help of the group’s core engineering talent.

Porsche chair Matthias Mueller to lead Volkswagen as EA189 diesel crisis deepens

Volkswagen logo28 Sep 2015

By TIM ROBSON

VOLKSWAGEN AG has confirmed that Porsche chairman Matthias Mueller will take command of an empire that is under fire from all sides.

Mr Mueller, 62, has worked across various arms of the group since 1978, including Audi, Seat and Lamborghini, and succeeds Martin Winterkorn, who resigned last Wednesday in the wake of the worsening scandal that has ensnared approximately five million VW-built diesel passenger cars in an emissions fraud that stretches around the world.

“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation,” said Mr Mueller in a statement.

“Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.” In statements from VW headquarters, the company has named an array of cars that are affected internationally, all fitted with the company’s EA189 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine fitted with an ECU that is able to detect and beat static pollution tests thanks to a ‘cheat code’ written into the software.

While the affected cars are able to pass government-mandated emissions tests, the code allows the engines to access a more powerful, yet more polluting, engine ignition map. Volkswagen-branded cars have been detected emitting up to 35 times more nitrous oxide gas than permitted.

These cars include the sixth-generation Golf, seventh-generation Passat and first-generation Tiguan. Current-model cars that comply with Euro 6 emissions standards – such as the current Golf, for example – are not affected.

The company also claims that the number of vehicles is closer to five million, rather than the 11 million currently being reported.

Volkswagen Group deputy chairman of the supervisory board Berthold Huber said: “The test manipulations are a moral and political disaster for Volkswagen. The unlawful behaviour of engineers and technicians involved in engine development shocked Volkswagen just as much as it shocked the public.

“We can only apologise and ask our customers, the public, the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends.” Shares in the company continue to plunge, with more than $US30 billion wiped from the company’s value in the last week alone.

Meanwhile, reports in Germany claim that Volkswagen was warned about the misuse of emission test-detecting software by diesel component supplier Bosch as long ago as 2007, while one of its own engineers reported the matter in 2011.

The German company has stated that it supplied Volkswagen with numerous parts for the EA189 engine, including fuel rail systems and an urea-based exhaust treatment module.

It’s suggested that the additional €300-per-vehicle cost of the module – included on larger diesel-powered vehicles including the Touareg – was deemed too expensive to be fitted to smaller, cheaper cars.

“Bosch supplies these components to the automaker’s specifications,” said Bosch in a statement. “How these components are calibrated and integrated into complete vehicle systems is the responsibility of each automaker.” Other high-ranking Volkswagen AG officials, including Audi development boss Ulrich Hackenberg and Audi engine boss Wolfgang Hatz, who both worked on the EA189 project, may be swept up in the fracas, as the company says it “will leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of this, will call those responsible to account, and take the necessary actions”.

No local figures regarding the number of cars affected locally have yet been made available.

“Volkswagen Group Australia is still awaiting details with regards to our market and specifically which models may be affected,” said public relations manager Kurt McGuiness in a statement issued over the weekend.

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