Volkswagen CEO apologizes Barack Obama in person over emission scam
The scandal broke when the EPA took action against Volkswagen.
Volkswagen's CEO says he apologized in person to US President Barack Obama for the carmaker's emissions scandal, in which it rigged its cars to cheat on diesel engine pollution tests.
CEO Matthias Mueller said he held a "two minute" conversation with the president during his visit to Hannover, Germany, this week. "I took the opportunity to apologize to him personally for this matter," Mueller said during the company's annual news conference on Thursday in Wolfsburg, Germany.
"I also expressed my thanks for the constructive cooperation with his authorities and naturally expressed the hope that I can continue to fulfill my responsibilities for 600,000 workers, their families, the suppliers, the dealers," Mueller said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency could levy fines of up to $18 billion, but analysts think the punishment will not be that drastic.
Volkswagen seemed to endorse that view by saying it had set aside 7 billion euros globally for legal costs from 2015, on top of 7.8 billion euros ($8.8 billion) to cover fixes and an offer to buy back some 500,000 defective cars.
Overall, the company deducted 16.2 billion euros from last year's earnings to cover the costs of the scandal, in which it fitted cars with software that enabled them to pass tests but then turned emissions controls off during every day driving.
The scandal broke when the EPA took action against Volkswagen. Some 11 million cars worldwide have turned out to have the software. Mueller said today that recalling and fixing the cars that were rigged to cheat on the tests "will remain our most important task until the very last vehicle has been put in order."
Analysts say the impact of lower sales could make the final bill much higher than the company's figure. Volkswagen says it is reporting costs that it knows about at the present time.
The company said last week that it lost 1.5 billion euros on an after-tax basis after a profit of 11.1 billion euros in 2014.
Volkswagen is currently working out a settlement with US authorities in federal court in San Francisco, and has said that would include an offer to buy back as many as 500,000 of the just under 600,000 defective vehicles. Mueller used the company's annual news conference to also sketch out a plan to focus more on electric vehicles and services like car-sharing as it seeks to get past its emissions scandal.