After an emissions scandal that knocked $25 billion from its market value, German car manufacturer Volkswagen is ready to start the largest recall in its company history. New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that "if all goes to plan," then the automaker will start recalling affected vehicles in Europe in January 2016. According to Müller, who joined the company from Porsche after previous Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down, "all the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016."
But while Müller's comments constitute the first indication of how long the recall will take, a spokesperson for Volkswagen of America made it clear that he was talking specifically about cars sold in the European Union, rather than the United States. Of the 11 million diesel-powered vehicles affected worldwide, roughly 488,000 are in the United States, requiring software and hardware changes to pass the emissions tests they were engineered to deceive. Michael Horn, the head of Volkswagen in the US, wrote a letter to customers dated September 29th that was later obtained by Reuters. "I am writing you today to offer a personal and profound apology," he said. Unlike his European boss, Horn did not give a specific timeframe for the US recall, saying only that "getting this right will take some time."
According to estimates, the full recall could end up costing Volkswagen some $87 billion. Müller has already halted all non-essential investmentto free up funds, and told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the crisis gave the company the "opportunity to overhaul Volkswagen's structures," allowing it to decentralize and trim some of its dead weight. How well Volkswagen can recover is yet to be seen, but the company's new CEO doesn't see the scandal bringing the venerable German manufacturer down for good — Müller said Volkswagen needs an "evolution," not a "revolution" to restore consumer confidence.