Volkswagen rigged emission tests on about 2.8 million diesel vehicles in Germany, the country’s transport minister said on Friday, nearly six times as many as it has admitted to falsifying in the United States.
His comments, pointing to cheating on a bigger scale than previously thought, deepened the crisis at the world’s largest automaker as its supervisory board held a crucial meeting.
The board is widely expected to name Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche sports-car division, as chief executive to replace Martin Winterkorn, who quit on Wednesday, and at least four senior executives are expected to be purged.
Shares in the German company, which had started to steady after sharp falls earlier this week, were down 4.5 percent at 1335 GMT after Bloomberg also reported that executives in Germany controlled aspects of the manipulated U.S. tests, citing three people familiar with the U.S. business.
Volkswagen is under heavy pressure to show it can get to grips with the biggest business-related scandal in its 78-year history.
Mueller, 62, would represent part of the fresh start that Winterkorn said was needed when he stepped down.
The board will also dismiss the head of its U.S. business, the top engineers of its luxury Audi and Porsche brands and the head of brand development at its VW division, sources added, aiming to show it is acting decisively to end the crisis.
Volkswagen shares have plunged as much as 40 percent, wiping tens of billions of euros off its market value, since U.S. regulators said last Friday it had admitted to programming diesel cars to detect when they were being tested and alter the running of their engines to conceal their true emissions.
The scandal keeps growing. German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Thursday Volkswagen had also cheated tests in Europe, where its sales are much higher, and on Friday put the number of affected vehicles in Germany at 2.8 million.