FRANKFURT: Volkswagen revealed today it has drawn up a plan to refit millions of vehicles in a worldwide pollution-cheating scam, as its new chief vowed to act ruthlessly to overcome the "severest test" in the car giant's history.
The German government has given VW until October 7 to explain how it will resolve the scandal, which has rocked the industry and wiped USD 33 billion, or 38 per cent, off VW's market value in 10 days.
Chief executive Matthias Mueller, who took over the Volkswagen steering wheel on Friday, told senior management that technical solutions would be submitted in October.
Once approved by the German authorities, Volkswagen will inform customers and arrange for the cars to be refitted, he told managers late yesterday, according to remarks released by the firm.
Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker by sales, has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is undergoing testing.
They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.
CEO Mueller insisted that the software was not activated in all 11 million vehicles, however, and the number of vehicles actually needing a refit would be fewer than that.
Nevertheless, with the embattled auto maker facing incalculable costs and a potential tidal wave of litigation, CEO Mueller described the crisis as "the severest test in (VW's) history."
"There is no justification for deception and manipulation," the 62-year-old manager said.
"The inconceivable misconduct that has come to light in Volkswagen over the past days pains me and angers me immensely," Mueller said.
VW's upmarket subsidiary Audi and its Czech arm Skoda have admitted that more than three million of their vehicles were fitted with the suspect devices. Spanish unit Seat has said
700,000 of its cars were also equipped with the technology.
A spokesman for VW's trucks division said that 1.8 million light commercial vehicles were involved.
The carmaker, which in the first six months of this year overtook Toyota to become the world leader in terms of sales, needed to win back the trust it has lost, he said.
A YouGov opinion poll revealed that VW's image among German consumers has taken a severe hit and is now no better than Daimler's city runaround, the Smart.