Volkswagen has secured regulatory approval to repair diesel cars affected by the emissions scandal and will begin work in January.
The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has given VW the green light to install software and a flow transformer device, part of the air intake system, into the 8.5m diesel engines in Europe that contain software designed to cheat emissions tests.
Hans Dieter Pötsch, the VW chairman, admitted there had been a “whole chain” of errors at the German carmaker and a mindset within the company that tolerated rule-breaking.
VW will begin the process of repairing vehicles early next year by sending letters to motorists. This letter will advise customers that their vehicles are scheduled to be repaired but to await further instructions. A second letter will then tell affected motorists to contact a local engineer in “good time” to fix their vehicle.
Vehicles with a 1.2-litre or 2-litre engine will be fixed with a software update that can be installed in less than 30 minutes. However, 1.6-litre cars will require a new part to be placed in the vehicle, which will take less than an hour.
The recall will begin with 2-litre cars in the first quarter of 2016, followed by 1.2-litre cars in the second quarter and 1.6-litre cars in the third quarter.
VW has said it will provide compensation for customers for any fall in the residual value of their car, but the German company is yet to announce its plans. Customers will be provided with a free hire-car while their vehicle is being repaired.
The European parliament plans to investigate the carmaker, and the failure of regulators to prevent the rigging of diesel emissions tests. MEPs will vote on Thursday whether to launch the investigation, regarded as a formality.
Claude Turmes, a Green MEP, said: “The diesel issue mainly has two dimensions. Firstly, it’s about private companies organising the largest industrial fraud ever, and secondly, it’s about public authorities in member states and on the EU level not intervening despite having relevant information.”