At his first major public presentation on Wednesday, new Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Müller pledged to focus on rebuilding trust after the emissions scandal rather than growing at all costs.
His predecessors Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piëch were bent on selling more vehicles than Toyota and General Motors, a goal that VW has achieved. But the scandal, which erupted when VW was found to have fitted devices that artificially lowered emissions to millions of engines, has forced the carmaker to radically change its management culture and philosophy.
“Much has been secondary to going ‘higher, faster, further’, especially return on sales,” Mr. Müller said. The priority in future wouldn’t be to sell 100,000 cars more or less than a big competitor, but to achieve qualitative growth. “We must change our thinking and the way in which we deal with each other and with problems and mistakes,” he said in a brief address to investors while presenting VW’s first quarterly loss in at least 15 years.
VW reported a third-quarter operating loss of €3.48 billion, or $3.85 billion, and said the €6.7 billion it has set aside in the period to cover the costs of its biggest ever scandal was likely just the beginning.