Matthias Mueller took the podium and told workers that Volkswagen "firmly stands" behind them. The company's CEO reassured employees at the Tennessee VW plant that the automaker would follow through with expanding the facility and adding 2,000 jobs.
The German company has said the same thing from afar, but this time it was face-to-face. VW’s new chief praised the workers who build the Passat sedan, even though sales were slumping before the diesel emissions scandal broke. He pledged to pay more attention to the U.S. market.
“Making things right also means we need to deepen our understanding of the United States, of the needs and wishes of our American customers,” Mueller said in a video of the speech released to the media.
Mueller reaffirmed support for building a $900 million assembly line for a midsize SUV.
"Today, I ask you to do all you can to make this a big success and please help demonstrate that this team — that Volkswagen — deserves the trust of our customers, partners and the American public,” he said.
This is Mueller’s first visit to the U.S. as head of the company. The trip also included time at the Detroit auto show, where he caused a stir in an interview with NPR by claiming the company did not lie to regulators but only misunderstood what the EPA was asking.