Merkel: Germany’s reputation unhurt by Volkswagen scandal

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Berlin (dpa) – Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal has not hurt Germany’s strong reputation for trustworthy businesses, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview Sunday.

The disclosure that the world’s largest carmaker manipulated engine software to provide false emissions tests on diesel cars has raised fears that the entire “Made in Germany” brand has been tarnished.

While Merkel admitted the revelation was a “dramatic event,” she said she saw no long-term impact on Germany’s export-led economy.

“I believe that the reputation of the German economy – the confidence in the German economy – has not been so shaken that we are no longer considered a good business location,” she told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“I hope that VW now quickly establishes the necessary transparency,” said Merkel.

Several VW engineers have admitted to installing the stealth software, Bild newspaper reported Sunday, citing an internal inquiry conducted by the company after the crisis erupted.

The Bild report traced the scandal’s origins to the development of VW’s EA 189 diesel engine in 2005. At some point engineers began manipulating the engine’s software after they realized they could not comply with emissions standards while still meeting cost targets.

However, it was still unclear who conceived of the deception and how far up the VW chain of command it was planned.

A spokesman said the company had no comment on the report.

Martin Winterkorn stepped down in September as VW’s chief executive and was replaced by Porsche head Matthias Mueller.

Volkswagen’s shares hit a four-year low last week as regulators in several nations launched investigations against the German carmaker. The rigged software might have been installed in up to 11 million vehicles worldwide, VW said.

The company took out full-page ads in leading German newspapers on Sunday. “We will do everything to regain your trust,” it said.

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