Volkswagen’s billionaire owners are set to address their staff Wednesday -- the first time since a massive emissions scandal came to light in September. The meeting comes as the company’s troubles mount further, with over 300,000 diesel cars in India being affected by the emissions-cheating software.
Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of Porsche Automobil Holding SE and a Volkswagen board member, will be addressing thousands of the company’s workers at its factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Porsche-Piech family, which controls a majority of the voting rights in Volkswagen, has reportedly been urged by labor leaders to open up about their commitment to workers amid growing tensions over the cheating scandal.
“The owner families have been very discreet so far amid this unprecedented crisis for the company,” Yasmina Serghini, a Paris-based analyst for Moody’s, said, according to Bloomberg. The meeting will show where the family stands with the labor force, which is “an important indicator for the company’s plan to accelerate reforms and improve cost efficiency,” Serghini said.
Porsche said Tuesday that the company and its hometown of Wolfsburg would overcome the emissions scandal, according to Reuters.
"I am firmly convinced that the city of Wolfsburg together with Volkswagen will master the situation and gain further strength," Porsche reportedly said, in a statement, issued after an annual pre-Christmas meeting between city officials and Volkswagen executives and board members. "The Porsche and Piech families stand behind Volkswagen and Wolfsburg as its headquarters."
On Tuesday, German regulators investigating Volkswagen confirmed that the software used by the company in many of its diesel vehicles was equipped with the illegal “defeat device” software. The announcement from German regulators could affect its European consumer litigation, the New York Times reported.
In September, Volkswagen admitted installing the “defeat device” software in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to cheat on emissions tests. However, in a recent letter to the British Parliament, a top Volkswagen official said: “It is still being determined whether the software in question officially constituted a ‘defeat device’ in the E.U.”
Meanwhile, reports surfaced Tuesday that Volkswagen is planning to conduct a voluntary recall of 324,000 diesel cars in India to remove the cheating software, even as emissions rules in the country are less stringent than other advanced economies.
Volkswagen will also have to recall 2.46 million vehicles in Germany, including about 1.54 million German Volkswagen-branded cars along with 531,813 cars at Audi, 286,970 at Skoda and 104,197 at Seat.
Volkswagen has proposed software updates for its rigged 1.2 and 2.0-liter engines. The automaker reportedly wants to add an air filter for the 1.6-liter motors, to avoid more costly changes to engine components.
CEO Matthias Müller said last week that it will take months to determine who was responsible for the scandal, but an interim report on the internal investigation is expected by mid-December.