Friday 19 January 2018

Volkswagen executive apologises for emissions scandal at motor show

Herbert Diess apologises at the beginning of Volkswagen's press conference at the Tokyo motor show (AP)
Herbert Diess apologises at the beginning of Volkswagen's press conference at the Tokyo motor show (AP)

A senior Volkswagen executive has apologised at the Tokyo motor show for the company's emissions scandal, promising to win back customer trust.

Herbert Diess, chief executive of the passenger cars division, also said VW will delay the launch of a diesel vehicle in Japan.

The head of VW's Japan division, Sven Stein, who appeared first at the VW booth, even bowed for several seconds in a Japanese-style apology, but Mr Diess made no bow.

Mr Diess, a recent recruit from BMW, said: "On behalf of my entire company, I'd like to apologise," stressing that the priority is to fix the problem, uncover what happened and make sure the scandal never occurs again.

Volkswagen is engulfed in a crisis after US authorities found its diesel vehicles had software installed that allowed the cars to cheat emissions tests. On the road, the vehicles were emitting pollutants at levels many times higher than advertised. The company faces recalls for millions of vehicles and punishing fines.

"We are doing everything we can to bring back this trust in our brand," said Mr Diess.

He promised to "create a new and even better Volkswagen", rallying behind the principles of "innovation, responsibility and lasting value". Mr Stein and Mr Diess then unveiled a plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle, pulling back a cloth covering a car on the stage.

Mr Stein acknowledged after the presentation that sales in Japan had plummeted by more than a third, although other factors besides the scandal, such as the lack of new models, could also be behind the fall.

The launch of a diesel model in Japan, which had been planned for the first quarter of next year, will be delayed until the second half, according to Volkswagen.

Although the vehicle does not have the diesel engine involved in the scandal, Mr Stein said he wanted to allay customer worries.

The Japanese market is dominated by powerful local manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda, but Volkswagen has done relatively well compared with US rivals, selling about 60,000 vehicles a year, with 600,000 Volkswagen owners on Japan's roads, according to VW.

Press Association

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