Under deadline pressure, Volkswagen’s new CEO Matthias Mueller said it will recall and refit 11 million vehicles equipped with emissions cheating devices.
Included will be U.S. and European vehicles under the nameplate Volkswagen (5 million cars), Audi (2.1 million), Skoda (1.8 million), and Seat (700,000) of Spain.
The automaker has pulled its cars off the U.S. market, sales are being stopped in various European countries, and its home market Germany has said it has until Oct. 7 to make a fix. If not, cars in Germany will also be pulled off the market.
According to Reuters, markets that have pulled affected models off the road include Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Having fully confessed wrongdoing and accepted blame, Volkswagen has been working intensely on a solution for emissions controls that allow many times the NOx from diesel models.
Unclear from a closed-door meeting of 1,000 of the company’s top managers in Wolfsburg is precisely what the fix will be.
Mueller said it would involve a “comprehensive” plan. He said also “in the next few days” the automaker would alert customers of the need to bring in the cars, and in October it will let authorities know what the update would be.
If it involves retrofitting urea injection for the affected vehicles, this would mean a tank and filler and attendant equipment would need to be installed.
According to a disclosure in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Volkswagen had originally tried to save the cost of installing urea injection at the factory, estimated in the range of $335 (300 euros) per car. This, it was reported, could have brought the NOx to legal levels.
If urea injection is now the course it takes, it will cost far more, and add to losses in the company’s stock valuation, sales, and brand reputation going forward.
If Volkswagen’s retrofit means a software update, that would be far less surgery. The automaker had already tried a software update in its U.S. cars late last year during a recall, and that had proven unsuccessful.
Unclear also is whether any update would affect mpg, horsepower and torque, or resale value.
In the U.S. as in other countries, Volkswagen has set up a website to keep customers apprised of their affected diesel cars’ status.