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From Products Liability Law Daily, January 27, 2016

Volkswagen CEO Müller addresses technological advances, emissions controversy in Brussels speech

By John Dumoulin

Speaking at The Volkswagen Group’s New Year’s reception in Brussels, Belgium, CEO Matthias Müller said he wants Europe to take the lead in technological advancements and spoke about the need for increased cooperation between policy makers and the automotive industry, according to a company press release. Müller also addressed the emissions controversy that has recently affected the company, announcing that Volkswagen would have the emission values of its vehicles checked by external inspectors and that the company has agreed to technical solutions to correct the problem in the affected vehicles (Volkswagen Press Release, January 25, 2016).

Europe’s role. A number of European Union parliamentarians attended Volkswagen’s reception, and Müller said in his speech that he wants Europe to take the technological lead in automotive advancements, including such things as digitization, autonomous driving, and electric mobility. He said Europe should lead “also in terms of infrastructure and the right legislative framework. ” According to Müller, “ We must not leave this playing field to Silicon Valley.”

Cooperation between industry and policy makers. According to the release, Volkswagen wants policy makers and the automotive industry to cooperate more closely on digital transformation and electric mobility. According to Müller, “A true breakthrough for electric mobility will only be achieved if politics, society and authorities work together more closely. ” He said that Europe needs an extensive network of 150 kW rapid charging stations and that customer trust in electric mobility will increase only “if there is a visible, functioning infrastructure.”

Volkswagen’s Strategy 2025. Müller promised that Volkswagen would concentrate on sustainability “more than ever before,” including in the company’s products, strategy, and management. The CEO will present Volkswagen’s new Strategy 2025 this summer. Müller said the company’s brands will introduce about 20 additional models with electrical or plug-in hybrid drive trains by 2020.

Emissions issue. Volkswagen’s CEO also addressed the emissions controversy that has affected the company since last year, when authorities alleged that Volkswagen vehicles contained software that constituted a “defeat device” designed to allow the vehicles to meet emissions standards while being tested, but under normal conditions they emitted pollutants far above allowable standards. Müller stated that Volkswagen was “using the current crisis to fundamentally realign the Group. I strongly feel we now have the chance to build a new and better Volkswagen.” Müller described reforms the company was undertaking to correct the problem, saying Volkswagen would have the emission values of its vehicles checked and certified by external and independent inspectors in the future and that the vehicles would be tested randomly under real driving conditions.

According to Müller, the company has agreed to European Union-wide, comprehensive technical solutions for the approximately 8.5 million affected vehicles. According to the release, the retrofitting of the vehicles will start this week. Müller said that the discrepancies in emissions between the official testing and actual consumption “are no longer accepted and no longer acceptable” and that the company “will manage the recall in the most customer friendly and best possible way.”

Companies: The Volkswagen Group

MainStory: TopStory IndustryNews MotorVehiclesNews

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