Volkswagen AG (VW) has turned to a small group of insiders to lead them down the road of recovery after its diesel-emissions scandal that’s left regulators, investors and 11 million customers awaiting answers.
VW is relying on five supervisory board members who represent its entrenched interests. The group has a total of 31 years on the board and was paid a combined 3.5 million euros ($3.95 million) last year by VW.
Berthold Huber, a five-year veteran from the IG Metall labor union and currently Volkswagen’s interim chairman, will lead the supervisory board committee overseeing the probe. Panel members Bernd Osterloh and Babette Froehlich are also employee representatives. Olaf Lies is economy minister of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 percent of Volkswagen’s voting shares, while Oliver Porsche represents the family that controls a majority of VW’s common stock.
VW has stuck to company veterans. CEO Matthias Mueller, appointed after Martin Winterkorn was pressured to step down, has a four-decade career at the carmaker. Designated Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch, previously chief financial officer, had long been a close associate of Winterkorn, who remains CEO of VW’s majority shareholder Porsche Automobil Holding SE.
While VW has said it has a solution to make its vehicles compliant with emissions regulations, the company hasn’t disclosed how the repairs will affect their performance.
At the very least, Volkswagen will need to disable the illegal software. The upgrade could also require physical changes to the cars’ emissions systems to treat the harmful nitrogen oxides. Depending on the fix, drivers may see lower gas mileage than they used to get.
In a letter to investors posted on Volkswagen’s website, Mueller asked for patience. “I know that you will have many questions you would like to see answered,” the CEO said. “I am personally committed to answering them. However, I must ask you to give me time to gather the full facts first.”