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VW CEO says recall to start in January

The biggest business crisis in VW’s 78-year history has wiped off more than a third off its share price.

FILE. Critics have taken aim at Volkswagen for what they say is its slow response in Australia and elsewhere to the scandal. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

BERLIN - Volkswagen Chief Executive Matthias Muelle r said in an interview with a German newspaper that the company would launch a recall for cars affected by its diesel emissions crisis in January and complete the fix by the end of next year.

"If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January. All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016," Mueller told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The newspaper provided a copy of the interview prior to publication on Wednesday.

For the US market, a company spokeswoman said later, the remedy will first have to be agreed upon with Environmental Protection Agency, but she offered no timing for that.

Mueller told the FAZ that he believed only a few employees were involved in the diesel emissions rigging that has hammered the company's stock and done severe damage to its reputation, refuting the notion that his detail-oriented predecessor Martin Winterkorn must have known about it.

He said VW would have to become smaller and less centralised, adding that every model and brand would be scrutinised for its contribution to the company and singling out Bugatti.

But he said an "evolution" rather than a "revolution" was needed to get VW back on track, predicting that the company could "shine again" in two to three years.

"This crisis gives us an opportunity to overhaul Volkswagen's structures," Mueller said. "We want to make the company slimmer, more decentralised and give the brands more responsibility.

Mueller rejected the suggestion that VW had informed financial markets too late about the diesel problems despite having told officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weeks before it went public.

"Based on our understanding of the law, we informed in time," he said.

77,000 AUSTRALIA VEHICLES HAD EMISSIONS CHEATING SOFTWARE

The Australian unit of Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE said on Wednesday some 77,000 vehicles sold in the country had been fitted with devices designed to mask the level of emissions, widening a global scandal engulfing the German automaker.

The unit said it had set up a website for customers to see if their vehicles, including almost 55,000 Volkswagen branded passenger cars, 5,000 Skodas and more than 17,000 Volkswagen commercial vehicles, had the affected EA 189 diesel engines.

"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," Managing Director John White said in a statement.

"We understand the disappointment and frustration felt by our customers, dealers and partners in Australia and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We are doing everything possible to fix the problem and will be making further announcements in the near future," White added.

The biggest business crisis in Volkswagen's 78-year history has wiped off more than a third off its share price, forced out its long-time chief executive and sent shockwaves through both the global car industry and the German establishment.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an enquiry to determine whether consumers have been misled and says Volkswagen faces legal action and millions of dollars in fines if found to have breached consumer laws.

Critics have taken aim at Volkswagen for what they say is its slow response in Australia and elsewhere to the scandal.

While it admitted on 22 September that 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with illegal software, Volkswagen only began providing customers on Friday with information about whether their cars and vans were affected.

Volkswagen's chief executive told a German newspaper the company would launch a recall in January for cars affected by its diesel emissions crisis and complete the fix by the end of next year.

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