For Volkswagen, the mission is arduous, but clear — repair the past in the present to roll forward into the future.
Last week, the embattled automaker announced how it plans to make its 11 million faulty diesel vehicles comply with emissions laws, beginning its massive recall in January and aiming to be finished with the repairs in late 2016. As Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller explained, some of the affected cars will simply need a software update, while others will need new parts like fuel injectors and catalytic converters. He didn't even rule out the idea of giving affected owners new cars altogether.
Although that will take a lion's share of Volkswagen's time next year, the carmaker must also keep an eye on the future, beginning to maneuver itself back to respectability within the auto industry, and, more importantly, improve its reputation to the public.
Taking a big step in that direction, Volkswagen announced Tuesday that it's overhauling its emissions control system for coming models and is eyeing an overall shift from diesel technology to electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the near future.
Wanting to shed itself of its current diesel exhaust system used in models implicated in the emissions scandal, VW is switching to what it's calling a selective catalytic reduction technology, a cleaner option, which will lower emissions from its diesel engines in North America and Europe, as reported by the New York Times.
Ironically, the Times reported that Volkswagen had the option to switch to the selective catalytic reduction technology eight years ago in 2007, but chose the system currently at the heart of its excruciating scandal — the worst in the automaker's 78-year history. Well, better late than never, right?
That being said, the decision to put the emissions system in place back in 2007 could have saved Volkswagen the $6.5 billion — at the least — it projects its recall will cost.
Although adopting the new emissions technology will address coming models, VW intends to steer clear from diesel technology and pour more of its resources behind electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the near future.
Before the emissions cheating scandal became worldwide news last month, Volkswagen was excited to announce its plans to roll out with 20 electric and plug-in hybrid cars, ranging from compacts to luxury sedans expected to be available as early as 2019 or 2020.
As part of its emissions rehaul announcement Tuesday, Volkswagen stated that it would cut investments by about $1.1 billion, which will hurt its chances of keeping up with competitors introducing new technology.
However, introducing a new emissions system for coming models is a move that had to be done sooner than later.
"Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology," Herbert Diess, chairman of VW's car brand, told the Times on Tuesday, adding that the change will happen as soon as possible.
Will the massive recall, adoption of a cleaner emissions system and segue from diesel technology to electric and plug-in hybrid cars be enough to propel Volkswagen into the future on a positive note?