VW Boss to Meet U.S Officials as Pressure Builds

WASHINGTON (dpa/TNS) -

Volkswagen head Matthias Mueller will meet with the lead U.S. environmental regulator in Washington next week to discuss the ongoing fallout from the automaker’s emissions scandal, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

Mueller’s Jan. 13 meeting with EPA head Gina McCarthy was requested by the embattled company, an EPA spokeswoman clarified. Mueller will travel to Washington after attending the North American International Auto Show, which opens next week in Detroit.

Pressure is mounting on scandal-hit Volkswagen ahead of the major automotive show, as media reported that U.S. authorities are calling for major recalls on vehicles fitted with emissions-rigging software.

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday filed an environmental lawsuit against VW in the diesel scandal which could see the company fined up to $45 billion.

Mueller has been acting as a crisis manager since being named VW’s top manager after the carmaker revealed in September that it had installed software to manipulate emissions tests in about 11 million of its diesel-powered models.

Authorities are now calling on VW to recall a fifth of all vehicles kitted out with the manipulated diesel engines, which would amount to tens of thousands of cars, according to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Owners of recalled motors would be reimbursed at the company’s expense, or offered replacement cars at a very low price, the report said.

VW had previously hoped that workshop repairs would suffice.

After the report’s publication, VW shares dropped significantly in value, with non-voting stocks falling by 6 percent to less than $121 (112 euros).

VW’s U.S. sales fell 4.8 percent in the U.S. in 2015 to less than 350,000 cars. The company’s main diesel models have been off the market since VW admitted to diesel emissions test cheating.