WOLFSBURG: Volkswagen on Wednesday elected Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch to chair its board of directors, a move that came as the German automaker struggles to contain a scandal over emission-test rigging in the US.
Ahead of the announcement, VW’s new CEO said the company planned to launch in January a recall of vehicles with the software at the center of the scandal and that it aims to fix them all by the end of next year.
Volkswagen has said up to 11 million vehicles worldwide across several of its brands contain the diesel engine with the software used to cheat on US emissions tests. CEO Matthias Mueller told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “It will hopefully be fewer, but in any case still far too many.”
Asked when the recall will begin, Mueller said in the interview published Wednesday that “care goes before speed” and that if everything goes “as planned, we can start the recall in January.”
“All the cars should be in order by the end of 2016,” he added.
Poetsch, the new chairman of the board of directors, was nominated at the beginning of September before the scandal broke.
His status as a company insider has provoked criticism that he is too close to current management to be able to deal with the scandal’s fallout.
But he retained the backing of major shareholders, including the Piech and Porsche families. They have a majority of voting share through a holding company.
“Mr. Poetsch has distinguished himself through his strategic insight, knowledge of the automobile industry, and his expertise in financial matters,” board member Wolfgang Porsche told journalists at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg.
The company’s board of directors announced his appointment after a closed-doors meeting at the company’s home plant in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Poetsch fills a position vacated when longtime chairman Ferdinand Piech resigned in April.
Poetsch will be replaced as CFO, a title he has held since 2003, by Frank Witter. Witter was the former CEO of the Volkswagen Financial Services unit.