Monday 11 November 2019

Irish Volkswagen boss confirms some of 107,000 vehicles here will be recalled in 2016 as he apologises for emissions scandal

Volkswagen saw its market share in Europe drop fractionally in September (AP)
Volkswagen saw its market share in Europe drop fractionally in September (AP)
Lars Himmer

Eddie Cunningham and Adam Cullen

VOLKSWAGEN’S Irish boss today apologised to motorists for the breach of trust over the ‘cheat device’ in its recalled cars as he faced a Dail committee grilling.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the scandal engulfed the company, Lars Himmer told the Dáil Joint Committee on Transport and Communications: “I would like to express my sincere apologies that our Group has significantly let down our customers, our staff, our dealers and the wider public.”

And he revealed that they will begin recalling some of the 107,000 cars, vans and secondhand imports from January. A total of 11 million worldwide are being recalled.

He faced heavy questioning from members who repeatedly told him that people felt badly let down by Volkswagen and that there were serious concerns about the re-sale of the cars involved in the recall.

Mr Himmer told them: “As a Group, we accept that we mishandled these tests and we will fix this at our expense and in a way that minimises any disruption to our customers or other stakeholders.”

But his apology cut little ice with many members of the committee, with Fianna Fail’s Timmy Dooley describing his opening statement as a ‘butt-covering’ exercise.

Mr Himmer said they were trying to come up with a solution for the diesel engines involved: 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels.

He said there was different software for each engine. “It is complicated,” he added, revealing that some engines will need a change of injectors as well as software.

The Group is presenting a solution option to the German authorities today and that will have a big bearing on what will need to be done to cars and whether it will take one hour, two hours or longer.

He said putting things right with the cars will have no impact on CO2 or road tax here. And he was adamant there is no safety issue.

He faced a constant stream of concern from members about how badly let down loyal customers felt about the breach of trust.

He was also repeatedly asked about fears over the re-sale values of cars affected but was not in a position to make a definitive statement on that.

Asked about finding the culprits involved in the scam, he said: “The sooner we know the Who and What the better. We really want to find the right people.” He said investigations are continuing but he didn’t have any ‘insights’ into them.

The Committee’s chairman John O’Mahony (FG) said it was in everyone’s interest to get the saga sorted “very, very quickly” and urged the issue of re-sale values to be met upfront.

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