Matthias Müller, the boss of Volkswagen has rejected calls to offer the same sort of compensation to offer European customers in the same way as American drivers when the carmaker agreed to a $14.7bn settlement in the US over its emissions scandal.
Müller told the German Sunday newspaper, die Welt am Sonntag, that there was “a different situation here” in Europe.
The former chief executive of Porsche, who took over at VW in September 2015, pointed out that compensation agreements in the US would not necessarily be applicable in Europe.
“In the US the [emission] limits are stricter, which makes the fix more complicated. And taking part in the buyback is voluntary [for customers], which is not the case in Germany, for example,” he said.
Müller’s comments followed demands from Elzbieta Bienkowska, Europe’s industry commissioner, for Volkswagen to compensate European drivers of its diesel-powered cars as well as US owners.
Bienkowska said it would be unfair for consumers in Europe to miss out on remuneration granted to people in the US just because the two countries operate different legal systems.
While VW is in “a sound financial position”, Müller said, “you do not have to be a mathematician to recognise” that a similar compensation scheme in Europe would “overwhelm” the company economically.
Müller admitted to die Welt am Sonntag that it could take years for Volkswagen to rebuild a reputation damaged by the emissions scandal.
“We need to be patient, this transformation process will not be completed tomorrow,” he said. “We need to show when modifying cars in the workshops that we have understood [the problem] now. We must succeed at convincing our customers again.”