Volkswagen boss Matthias Müller has said he will not allow the dieselgate emissions scandal to "paralyse the company", and will instead use the situation as a "catalyst for change".
Speaking at a press conference at the firm's Wolsburg headquarters alongside VW Group board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, Müller reiterated that Volkswagen's five-point recovery plan will help to restore the company's "excellent past reputation". The plan, first revealed last month, hinges on fixing the engines affected by the emissions scandal, reducing costs, creating new synergies within the Volkswagen Group and creating a more open corporate culture.
"Our first priority is the technical solutions for our customers," said Müller. "Customers want to know how the manipulations came about. They want their vehicles put right as soon as possible.
"Our second priority is establishing the truth with internal auditing. When we uncovered implausabilities in the CO2 emissions in November, the fact that we went public at an early stage, demonstrates that we are willing to be as transparent as possible."
While Volkswagen has already detailed the fixes it will use to bring the EA189 diesel engine at the centre of the scandal into line with emissions legislation in Europe, Müller admitted it will be some time before fixes for cars in the US can be revealed. "Rest assured we are working as fast as we can to come up with a solution," said Müller.
Speaking about Volkswagen's group realignment, Müller said the plan to de-centralise the group's structure was always on the cards, but the dieselgate scandal had forced the plan to be enacted faster than expected. The realignment hinges on the firm's various brands and regions having greater autonomy than before, with the central VW Group focussing more on new strategies and synergies. "All of these structural changes aim to reduce complexity," says Müller, "there is definitely room for improvement. Our most valuable currency is credibility and trust in our brands, products and people."
The new group structure will begin to be implemented in the first quarter of next year, with the full realignment completed by the start of 2017. More detail about how Volkswagen will operate in the future will be revealed in April 2016, when the firm publishes its full Strategy 2025 plan.
"We have not given up our claim of leadership in our industry," says Müller. "We want to shape the future of motability and we have the potential. We are working hard on all our the five points already announced and we are making progress.
"We want to create a new, a better, and a stronger Volkswagen. A company that uses its strengths to make the transition to the new world of automobiles. A company that now releases new forces, and takes better advantage of its huge potential. And, last but not least, a company that will be successful over the long term on the basis of strong values.”