European carmakers mount defence of diesel after VW emissions scandal
The European car industry has mounted a strident defence of diesel in the wake of a sprawling scandal at Volkswagen that has thrown the future of the fuel into doubt and shaken the automotive sector.
Writing on behalf of regional industry body Acea, Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of RenaultNissan, warned top EU policymakers against overreacting to the revelation that VW cheated
on US emissions tests of its diesel engine cars.
“All manufacturers have heavily invested in innovation, developing advanced diesel technology which consumes less fuel, thus reducing CO2 emissions,” Mr Ghosn wrote to EU
member state ministers responsible for trade, economy and industry.
“We should avoid measures which could undermine the competitiveness of our sector, which accounts for 12.1m jobs in Europe,” he added in a letter seen by the Financial Times.
The plea came as senior VW directors cautioned that their investigation of the scandal would take “at least several months”.
VW has appointed US law firm Jones Day to probe who developed and authorised the use of software that enabled VW diesel cars to emit fewer nitrogen oxides in laboratory tests
than they did on the road.
The directors reaffirmed their plans to appoint chief financial officer HansDieter Pötsch as chairman, putting him in overall charge of the internal investigation. His candidacy had
sparked criticism from corporate governance experts because he has served on the VW management board since 2003.
“Appointing Mr Pötsch following a scandal like this creates a serious conflict of interest,” said HansChristoph Hirt, director of Hermes Equity Ownership Services. It was “a missed
opportunity to bring in a heavyweight outsider and would not go down well with investors and regulators”.
However, Mr Pötsch retains the backing of the Porsche and Piëch families, who together control the majority of VW voting shares. Berthold Huber, a trade unionist, has held the VW
chairman’s role on an interim basis since patriarch Ferdinand Piëch resigned in April following a power struggle with then chief executive Martin Winterkorn. Mr Winterkorn stepped
down last week. VW did not say when Mr Pötsch would join the supervisory board.
Andy Sharman and Chris Bryant
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