Still recovering from an emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen AG agreed to improve oversight of its engine-software department to prevent future manipulations, Reuters reported Thursday. The automaker also said it has a new corporate structure in the works that would be in place across the entire group by early 2017.
Volkswagen in September launched both an internal and an external investigation, carried out by a U.S. law firm, after it admitted to cheating diesel emissions tests in the United States. "No business justifies crossing legal and ethical boundaries," Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said at a news conference Thursday, according to Reuters. "Even though we cannot prevent misconduct by individuals once and for all, in the future it will be very difficult to bypass our processes."
He did not name any individuals involved in the cheating scandal but said it was likely a limited number of people who participated. However, he did add: "We are talking here not about a one-off mistake but a chain of errors." The company admitted Thursday that in certain areas within the operation there was "a mindset" that allowed for rule breaking, according to the Financial Times.
The scandal caused a massive shakeup atop Europe's largest automaker. The executive board has brought on six new members and top management had been changed at seven of the automaker's 12 brands. The scandal forced former CEO Martin Winterkorn to step down, who was replaced by then Porsche boss Matthias Mueller in September.
Mueller said Thursday the scandal allowed for much-needed change within VW. The planned new company structure is aimed at giving more power to regional divisions and brands. "As serious as this crisis is, it is also offering us an opportunity to drive much-needed structural change and we will use that opportunity," Mueller said, via Reuters. He also said the automaker was in regular contact with U.S. environmental authorities but did not elaborate on the steps VW had proposed.
Up to 11 million cars worldwide were installed with the software aimed at defeating emissions tests. The costs associated with the scandal -- fixing the cars, paying fines, dealing with legal challenges -- were estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. Shares in Volkswagen, which has seen its market value fall significantly, were down about 1.5 percent early Thursday morning, Eastern Time.