By on January 12, 2016

Matthias Müller

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller apologized again to dealers and customers for the ongoing diesel scandal in a statement to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau. When pressed, he also admitted that buybacks are possible.

“This is a difficult situation because we have similar generations of engines … [but] the technical situations are all so different,” said Müller. “In some cases, it’s very easy to repair the cars. In other cases, it’s very expensive … and in that case we have to negotiate whether it would be better to bring the cars back to Volkswagen.”

See full interview below:

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49 Comments on “Volkswagen CEO Müller Says Buybacks ‘Possible,’ In Theory...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    This isn’t Asia. Apologies ain’t sh1t when it’s proven that you deliberately cheated and lied.

    Oops.. I’m fresh out of moral outrage now. It’s just VW after all.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Didn’t you see his NPR interview? They didn’t lie. It was just a misunderstanding. There are no ethical issues in VWs culture. And they weren’t more forthcoming with information because they didn’t understand the question.

      I can’t believe how far off the reservation this guy went in that interview. If was epic. I’m surprised I didn’t read about it here.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    “Volkswagen CEO Müller Says Buybacks ‘Possible,’ In Theory…”

    So is nuclear fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      I could possibly buy a new Volkswagen, in theory…

      Honestly, if VWs were good enough cars for their customers to purchase, why are Volkswagen executives so hesitant to buy them back? Their word-mincing and arrogance are exactly what NOT to do to get past this difficulty with half a semblance of a decent reputation. Anyone who would think they make an honest product and stand behind it is seriously uninformed. We can expect to see lots more Mitsubishi-style “0 down, 0 payments for 90 days” deals.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      Lol…

      Nuclear Fusion is a cake-walk, VW ownership not so much!!!

      The solution is an easy one, push your VW off a cliff. You’ll actually save money.

  • avatar
    timtim

    VW’s execs may become more open to offering a buyback…California just rejected their repair plan.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/01/12/business/12reuters-volkswagen-emissions-california.html

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The continued word parsing will only infuriate the EPA, CARB, dealers, and many TDI owners.

    Nearly 4 months on, and no solution yet.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I expect there to be a lot of information by Friday, at least from the U.S. government agencies. VW, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Nearly 4 months on, and no solution yet.

      A few days ago i posted on a thread similar to this indicating the whole add a CC and voila the problem is solved was a bunch of BS.

      It is not four months, try 10 years. This goes back to the cars from 2009. The engineering on those cars had to begin a least a year prior to release most likely two or three. For simplistic sake i will say 10 years. From other VAG related articles I have read, north of 200 people were ‘in’ on the fact the cars cheated. Surely they would have continued to work on a solution all these years to actually get compliant as the rules continue to get more and more stringent in terms of emissions. I don’t believe for a minute they just decided the cheat was the best solution and gave up. If they did give up, then they need to come clean and acknowledge the fact they had given up and buy the cars back. But the premise of them ‘admitting’ or coming clean at this point is almost laughable as they continue to dance around the entire subject of accountability.

      For fun, CARB and the EPA should also let VAG know that the cars that are bought back must be destroyed. No reason to let them get off by loading a freighter and shipping them to Africa or some other continent country that could care less and recouping some of their financial loss.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Good point about the buyback. VW could host a ‘Cash For Clunkers 2.0″ in which they buy back their own TDIs and crush them.

        There is a surreal walk of shame in VW’s future. I can see cameras recording the crushing of a Golf TDI with the smiling owner looking on, holding a check for $25k – which he promptly spends that day to buy a nice Sonata Eco.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    The official rejection letter posted today is brutal:
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=780
    http://arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/rejection_vw.pdf

    “Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it.”

    “VW’s submissions are incomplete, substantially deficient, and fall far short of meeting the requirements”

    VW isn’t even trying to play ball. Additionally, Mueller’s NPR interview was egregious, and likely quite truthful as well.

    Surprised neither of these have made TTAC yet.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      The NPR interview is a good example of why the new boss should have been an external candidate, even though we all knew that wouldn’t happen.

      I can just imagine some PR handler frantically waiving their arms and mouthing “Holy f**k what are you doing?” while that interview was going on. What a disaster.

      • 0 avatar
        Notadude

        johnny_5.0, you said exactly what I have been thinking all day. This is getting to be an even bigger train wreck than before. Why on Earth did VW choose this guy, and why on Earth did they believe sending him to the US to speak for VWAG was a good idea? Was it Diess who was quoted last week as saying VW needed to learn about Americans and what they want? They cannot get working on that project fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        timtim

        I would have loved to watch the PR guy’s face blanch when he realized what had just been said to NPR

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I, too, was hoping VW would choose an outsider. Instead, they chose the firefighter nearest the burning building, but he’s not trained in fighting chemical fires.

  • avatar
    John

    Maybe I’m hung up on semantics, Mr. Muller, but it’s not about “repairing” the cars. “Repair” means to return to the original state. In their original state, as delivered, these cars did not meet US emissions requirements – by design. Mr. Muller is actually talking about altering the cars.

  • avatar
    timtim

    According to: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/california-regulators-rejected-volkswagens-recall-210557381.html

    In response, Volkswagen released the following statement:

    “Today’s announcement addresses the initial recall plans Volkswagen submitted to CARB in December. Since then, Volkswagen has had constructive discussions with CARB, including last week when we discussed a framework to remediate the TDI emissions issue. This week, we have been working with Kenneth Feinberg to develop a swift, fair and independent program, which will provide a comprehensive remedy for our customers. We are committed to working cooperatively with CARB and other regulators, and we plan to continue our discussions tomorrow when we meet with the EPA. As stated today by CARB, “Today’s actions do not preclude a recall, but allow for a broader array of potential remedies.”

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    That interview is amusing. VW, a global corp with a market cap around 125 billion and over a half-million employees, couldn’t locate a sufficiently expert E>G translator so its Rechtsabteilung understood every little nuance of the EPA’s notifications?

    Hell, give me a week to brush up my kraut and I’m available.

  • avatar
    RazorTM

    I really don’t care about the emissions, and I really like my Passat TDI, but it would be financially beneficial to me if they were to buy my car back. Looks like that’s a little more in the realm of possibility now that the EPA and CARB have rejected their proposal.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    This is a once in a lifetime event unfolding in front of us. If VW continues down their chosen path of dealing with this we may actually be able to predict the demise VW USA, at least.

    I can’t think of any other company that has gone so far to commit a slow suicide. Enron, Worldcom, Countrywide MTG imploded before our eyes, but did it spectacularly fast. VW is allowing us to watch the slowly killing themselves, belligerently.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny ro

      I think the bank/mortgage companies, Enron and Worldcom had long slow fuses. Long fraud business, they ran out of money in the end and it appeared sudden to investors. similarly Bernie Maddoff was not sudden.

      AIG was faster. Write floors on the world stock market without reason or reserves, and bang.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      I think VW will pull out of the US and go back to a safe haven Mexico. Whole US production facilities will close, pair back dealerships. US is far from the gold mine other markets are

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    So, VW is getting closer to what they should have offered in the first place. Swap the illegal cars straight across for new comparable models.

    Even if VW buys the illegal ones back at fair market value, which is less than it used to be, it still hurts the owner who planned to spread depreciation over many years.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    EPA and CARB both rejected VWs proposed catalytic converter fix.

    It appears both the EPA and CARB are sharing the same concerns as many of the B&B, in that VW provided no information on reliability or performance impact with the changes, or technical details. Basically, they submitted a, “just trust us we’ll work it all out,” brief.

    CARB took it further and hit VW with 13 penalties.

    As many in the B&B noted, a more restrictive cat coupled with increase urea use is going to cut power, mileage, shorten engine life, and require more “cleaning” cycles to burn out deposits. The cars will be turned into balls of suck.

    If the problem could have been fixed with cats in the first place, since VW has to put a cat in anyway, wouldn’t that have been easier?

    Clearly the problem was complex and expensive to solve. I think at the end of the day buyback won’t be just “possible,” in the future, it will be about the only option.

  • avatar
    northeaster

    Four months of bad press into a crisis of VW’s making, Herr Muller has provided the clearest possible evidence that rewarding publicly dishonest dirt balls who still don’t get it after months is not really how I should be spending my next $50k or so.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Given the red-handedness of VW’s situation I don’t see what choice Müller has but to play the obtuse, innocent squarehead and hide behind Simple English.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        He could play the penitent Japanese CEO and make things right.

        Instead, in 2 minutes of interview, he’s made things exponentially worse.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          VW continues to run a textbook case on how not to manage a confidence crisis. It is amazing to watch how badly they are messing this up.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “He could play the penitent Japanese CEO and make things right.”

          Now, that’s interesting.

          Because offsetting Toyota’s admirably proactive handling of its recent brouhaha one immediately recalls Takata, Tepco/Fukushima and All Nippon Airways/Lockheed as counterexamples of Japanese moral porosity and PR death-wish.

          And there are others too buried in the past and my long term memory to be quickly dredged up at this hour. Can you recall any instances of Japanese corporate adroitness besides Toyota?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    When you add up their total potential exposure, VW has to be seriously considering cutting bait and pulling out of the US, leaving everyone that’ll be holding their hands out, including the Feds, California and dealers, high and dry. If it wasn’t for Mexico, VW would’ve jumped ship decades ago.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      As long as the company has breath in its lungs, the Americanos (all of them affected) will want their respective pounds of flesh.

      Only if VW goes bankrupt (which I think is possible) will people be left with nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Can a foreign company go bankrupt in the US when they thrive or do OK outside of the US? Why didn’t Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Suzuki and others seek such protection in the US, before simply pulling the plug?

        If left high and dry, as a consumer or government, and then sue VW, could you collect on a judgement in your favour, if VW has abandoned the US forever?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Leaving many unemployed in the Southern US

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    Headline fatigue (as expected) has pretty much fully set in at this point. Yes, every new development in this story is still reported in the major media outlets, but with the exception of CARB-state resident TDI owners, VWAG shareholders, and people on certain (*cough*) auto enthusiast websites, nobody else cares any more. VW is still selling gassers in the US at a decent clip (Tiguan had record sales for 2015, and December was its best month on record).

    VW will bungle their way through this, throw a big pile of money at the EPA, a much smaller pile at current owners, and move on. People who continue to predict a complete withdrawal from the US market alas are going to be sorely disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      VW doesn’t have a pile of money big enough to satisfy the angry mob at their door.

      I predict that crippling settlements may be limited by the courts in order to prevent bankruptcy, but VW’s market equity will be so harmed that sales will fall off, staff will be reduced, and the company will subsist as a shell of what it once was. It could take years.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Neither will happen. It will keep on growing and the results, will be like the unintended acceleration issue with Toyota

        • 0 avatar

          Growing where? Rest of the world maybe, but their US sales are going to be in the sh((t can for a while. It’s not Toyota, Toyota can do no wrong in many american consumers eyes so they apologized spent money on likely un-required repairs and moved on. VW has a horrible reliability rep and a bad dealer rep in the US add this mess with a idiot for a CEO and you have VW USA’s collapse or if they are going to be stubborn decades of sales under cost to move metal and pretend they are competitive.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Yes, defining it better, the VW Corporation will keep growing outside the US. They in Australia, are now selling more Audi’s than before. Old Motto: Any news is better than none

  • avatar
    jthorner

    He looks like the East German villain in a 1970s James Bond movie!

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