A mandatory recall of Volkswagen cars sold with software that enabled them to evade diesel emissions testing has been ordered by Germany’s motor transport agency.
The Federal Motor Transport Authority has rejected a Volkswagen proposal for a voluntary recall, according to the dpa news agency.
Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, is set to announce details of the recall later.
Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller (pictured) has said a recall could start in January and be completed by the end of next year in Germany.
The company has said around 11 million cars worldwide, 2.8 million of them in Germany and up to 80,000 in Ireland, have the software that duped US inspectors.
Volkswagen faces possible fines after US authorities discovered it had equipped 482,000 cars with software that disabled emissions controls except when the cars were being tested.
Mr Dobrindt said Volkswagen would have to present replacement software for certain cars that have a 2.0 litre diesel engine this month and begin fitting vehicles with them next year.
“The Federal Motor Transport Authority is of the opinion that the software constitutes an unauthorised defeat device,” Mr Dobrindt said. “VW is ordered … to remove the software from all vehicles and to take appropriate measures to ensure that the emissions rules are fulfilled.”
Mr Dobrindt refrained from publicly criticising Volkswagen, saying co-operation with the German car-maker was “extraordinarily good”.
He indicated that the recall may last through 2016 because vehicles fitted with smaller 1.6 litre diesel engines will require physical adjustments rather than just a software update.
Those hardware changes, which may not be ready before September 2016, will determine the timeline, he said.
The company recently disclosed the existence of further suspect software in 2016 diesel models. Mr Dobrindt said additional tests were under way that would include examining emissions outside the lab.
Asked about German media reports that more than two dozen Volkswagen managers had been suspended by the company amid signs that knowledge of the defeat devices was widespread, Mr Dobrindt said his ministry had “no information about who decided where, when at Volkswagen about the use of such software”.
Volkswagen has said that some managers had been suspended, but said the report of up to 30 “lacks any basis”.