Audi has simple engine fixes for luxury diesel cars: CEO

The Audi logo is seen at the entrance of the Audi powerplant in Brussels, Belgium in this September 28, 2015 file picture. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - German carmaker Audi has found simple technical fixes for luxury diesel vehicles fitted with software found to have enabled engines to evade U.S. emissions limits, its chief executive said as the brand steps up efforts to recover from the scandal.

Matthias Mueller, chief executive of Audi's corporate parent Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE, said last month th9at refits of 8.5 million smaller diesel-engined cars in Europe will be "technically and financially manageable", without specifying the costs.

On Tuesday Mueller’s counterpart at Audi, Rupert Stadler said that fixes for about 85,000 premium models equipped with Audi’s 3.0 liter V6 diesel engine may prove equally simple. That figure also includes vehicles from Porsche and VW powered by Audi engines.

“Swift, straightforward and customer-friendly solutions are in discussion,” Stadler told a gathering of 7,000 workers at Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters. “Every day we are taking another step toward the solution.”

VW’s flagship luxury division admitted last month that it failed to provide proper disclosure on the use of auxiliary emission-control devices (AECD) in its engines, adding that one of its AECDs to adjust the working temperature of catalytic converters is deemed illegal by U.S. authorities.

Audi, which accounts for about 40 percent of VW group profit, last week appointed Mueller as chairman and picked a new development chief to replace the group’s long-time top engineer Ulrich Hackenberg, who quit the firm after 30 years.

CEO Stadler, who came under fire from some labor representatives for initially ruling out any post-scandal modifications, will face questions from VW’s supervisory board on Wednesday on how Audi will tackle the crisis at a time when delivery growth is slowing amid falling demand for its models in China, its biggest market by vehicle sales.

Separately, labor leaders at VW’s second-largest German factory, in Kassel, are bracing for a lower workload next year.

“The current situation at VW is, of course, having an impact on production plans for early next year and will lead to a significant bump in utilization of the factory,” the factory’s top labor representative Carsten Baetzold said after a staff gathering involving 6,000 of the 16,000 workers at the transmissions and components assembly plant.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Goodman