VW wants to wipe the slate clean
The top management at German carmaker Volkswagen reported on the state of the company's internal investigations into the emissions scandal on Thursday and announced plans to foster a new business culture. Nothing but a failed PR stunt, some commentators write. Others praise the company for dealing openly with the crisis.
Admission of guilt exemplary
By frankly admitting its guilt Volkswagen will become a textbook example for corporate communication, the centre-left business daily Cinco Días comments admiringly: "The clear and simple mea culpa with which Volkswagen has reacted to the worst scandal in its history will probably be taught as a model of exemplary crisis management in business schools. The German group was shaken to its very foundations by the exposure of manipulated emissions levels in its diesel engines. Yesterday it published the initial conclusions of the internal investigation it is conducting not only to shed light on the causes and lack of checks, but also to restore the company's good image. … Independently of the pending judicial verdicts, admitting its guilt and at the same time restructuring its management is the best way for VW to turn this debacle into a lesson."
The wrong way to do PR
Volkswagen is embarrassing itself with botched PR strategies, the liberal business daily Wirtschaftsblatt writes: "So now we have it: the whole VW scandal was just a storm in a teacup because far fewer cars than initially believed were affected by the fraud and only a handful of employees were to blame for the whole mess anyway. They were immediately dismissed and the company is now back on track and ready to hit the gas pedal. With a tad of exaggeration, this is the kind of stuff VW told the public yesterday. Although it's still not clear exactly how many cars with manipulated software are on the road, two things are for sure: firstly, VW's PR crises should be required reading for future PR strategists - as an example of how not to do things. … And after all the hysterical public self-flagellation now they're suddenly saying the whole thing wasn't that bad after all? ... Secondly, other scandals have shown that it's always just a few lower-level employees who are blamed for infractions."
VW management must quickly restore trust
Volkswagen boss Matthias Müller declared on Thursday that credibility and trust rather than sales figures and profit margins were now the yardstick by which the company would measure its performance. The liberal-conservative daily Tagesspiegel praises the initiative and calls for these words to be followed by deeds: "How do you instil this morale in a multinational company with 600,000 employees in 120 factories? A company where there was apparently so much kowtowing to the bosses and such antiquated management structures that the pressure to perform and keep costs down pushed engineers to resort to illegal tricks. … The culprits must be found and punished, the customers compensated, and the structures renewed. Otherwise the entire leadership risks losing its credibility a second time. Volkswagen broke its quality standards by manipulating emissions tests. Now it must stick to its pledge to become a better company."