Volkswagen’s supervisory board has begun crisis talks as it faces deadlines from German regulators and U.S. lawmakers over the emissions scandal. The automaker also announced Wednesday that over 90,000 vehicles, including Audi cars, sold in Australia are equipped with software to cheat on emissions tests.
The talks, which are being held among a 20-person board at the company's headquarters, would likely last for hours, sources told Reuters. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s Australian unit said Wednesday that it had set up a website for customers to check if their vehicles -- including almost 55,000 Volkswagen passenger cars, 5,000 Skodas and over 17,000 Volkswagen commercial vehicles -- were fitted with the emissions-rigging software. A spokeswoman for Audi Australia later confirmed that 14,000 Audis were also fitted with the device.
"Volkswagen Group Australia takes this issue extremely seriously and is continuing to gather all the facts from our head office to support any rectification plans in Australia," John White, managing director of the company’s Australia unit, reportedly said in a statement.
An inquiry has been launched by Australian regulators to determine whether consumers were misled.
"The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently investigating whether Volkswagen and Audi exposed consumers to false, misleading or deceptive representations," Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects, said, according to Reuters.
Volkswagen will in January launch a recall for cars affected by the scandal, and finish uninstalling the cheating software from the vehicles by the end of next year, the company's new CEO Matthias Mueller told a German newspaper, according to reports.
Volkswagen was found to have installed so-called "defeat devices" on its cars that would reduce emission levels during tests. The automaker revealed that as many as 11 million vehicles carry the emissions-rigging software.
Also on Wednesday, Volkswagen temporarily suspended deliveries of its Caddy transporter van in Sweden in the wake of the scandal. The Caddy transporter van is reportedly the only new Volkswagen model sold in Sweden with the Euro 5 engine. Marcus Thomasfolk, head of information at Volkswagen Group Sweden, said customers could continue to place an order for the van but there would be no deliveries until authorities update the Euro 5 diesel engine.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen India also told its dealers to stop the sale of the Polo -- a popular hatchback model -- in the market until further instructions from the company. However, a spokesman of the local unit told Reuters that the move had nothing to do with the emissions scandal, but was related to "technical issues."
On Wednesday, Volkswagen shares were up over 7 percent during afternoon trade in Frankfurt.