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VW AG supervisory chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller

Volkswagen Plans French Recalls for February

Dec. 14, 2015
In the ongoing Volkswagen saga, the automaker schedules recall start for almost 1 million French vehicles, and Germany toughens engine software approval rules.

PARIS — Still reeling from its massive pollution cheating scandal, Volkswagen will begin recalling some 940,000 vehicles in France in February, VW Group France President Jacques Rivoal said Sunday.

Rivoal said in an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that the recall will “begin February 2016,” and that each customer with an affected diesel engine vehicles will receive “three letters” to detail the process.  

“One was sent in November; the next, in January, will specify technical measures; and the last one will invite clients to contact their car dealership,” he said.

The company said last month that it had “decided to undertake after-sales action on EA189 diesel engines in order to carry out a software correction” on the affected vehicles. VW was forced in September to admit it had installed emission-cheating software into 11 million diesel engine vehicles worldwide.

In addition to the VW marque, the group makes 11 other brands, including Porsche, Audi, Skoda, SEAT and Lamborghini.

Rivoal said that VW already established an online platform and phone number to help customers.

“600,000 clients have come forward, and 150,000 of them are identified as owners of an affected vehicle.” He said that the software update will take “a half-hour to an hour, depending on the model,” and that clients would receive a courtesy car, a safety check and a car wash.

Rivoal said the group will take on extra staff to handle the recalls and that dealerships will be able to stay open past regular hours. 

“I want to reaffirm, the safety and quality of the vehicles are not in question,” Rivoal said. 

Volkswagen said Friday that worldwide sales of all of its 12 different brands were down 2.2% in November.

The costs facing VW, once seen as the paragon of German industry, are still incalculable, in terms of reputation and global earnings, and because it faces billions in possible fines and legal costs.

Germany Will Toughen Approval Rules

In related news, Germany’s transport minister said Sunday that in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, major automakers will have to disclose their engine software to state regulators.

Alexander Dobrindt also announced there would be follow-up tests by the state motor transport authority KBA to double-check the results of exhaust tests ordered by the manufacturers.

The minister said there would be “a comprehensive package of measures” to tighten the approval process, including “disclosure of engine software” to the KBA, confirming a report in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Dobrindt said carmakers would also regularly have to rotate the auditing organizations they task with carrying out emissions tests on their new models, the newspaper reported.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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