Volkswagen blasted over 'cover thy butt' exercise
Volkswagen has been accused of a "cover thy butt" exercise after refusing to commit to compensation for more than 100,000 Irish motorists hit by the emissions scandal.
Weeks after the controversy erupted, just 25,000 of an estimated 115,000 cars fitted with environmental test-cheating software in Ireland have been identified.
Lars Himmer, managing director of Volkswagen in Ireland, said they are working to find the other impacted cars.
But the car giant boss said he could not guarantee Irish motorists any pay-outs.
"We will address this of course when we see what the impact is there," he told a parliamentary watchdog.
"I can not guarantee we will compensate anything, in any direction, but we will live up to our responsibility and we are not running away."
Fianna Fail transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said it should be "plain as day" that customers who bought the trusted brand and the environment were "injured parties" in the scandal.
People who spent money on a Volkswagen face a significant loss because of the multinational's manipulation and wilful neglect of standards, he told the Oireachtas joint committee on Transport and Communications.
Mr Dooley said the car manufacturer's response was more concerned with restoring its own corporate standing than dealing with the nub of the fall-out.
"It's PR spin. It's straight from the text book of 101, when you're caught, put your hands up and try and mitigate the damage, rather than really truthfully addressing the core of the problem," he added.
The Clare TD added: "It's a cover thy butt exercise that's going on, and I don't think it's acceptable."
Labour Party TD Sean Kenny demanded to know who was ultimately responsible for deliberately rigging engines so it appeared they were meeting environmental regulations when they were not.
"It seems to me it borders on something criminal, if somebody deliberately rigs a system to get around a safety and emission system," he told the committee.
"It sounds criminal to me."
But Mr Himmer said Volkswagen still has not identified who was behind the "internal software" on three different types of engines, which are fitted in more than 8.5 million vehicles around Europe.
"Who did it is still an open question," he said.
"We want to find out as well: who, why and how.
"We don' have a name today. The investigations are ongoing."
The car chief said he understood the issue involved "internal software".
But the investigations were complicated because base software comes from three different suppliers, which is then adapted by Volkswagen, he told the hearing.
A website set up to identify affected vehicles in Ireland, www.campaigncheck.ie , tracked 15,000 last week, and another 10,000 so far this week.
It is believed around half of all those fitted with the cheating-technology can be fixed through re-coding the software, but the other half may need some new hardware fitted.