Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess promised with “vehemence” to shift the public’s attention towards the future as the German carmaker continued to face criticism for the diesel emissions scandal at an annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday.
Diess focused on aggressive plans to push into electric cars after VW on Monday announced that it plans to be the first German carmaker to produce battery cells for electric cars.
“There is no alternative to battery-powered electric motors for the foreseeable future,” Diess said.
VW also hoped to deflect some of the criticism with an announcement Monday night that it is seeking to list its truck division Traton on the stock exchange before the summer break.
But a number of shareholders focused on the continuing fallout from the diesel emissions scandal that broke more than three years ago. Lawsuits from investors and customers, as well as investigations of former executives, are ongoing.
“Volkswagen is still being chased by justice,” said Ingo Speich of German fund management firm Union Investment, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against VW for failing to alert investors of the looming 2015 scandal in a timely manner.
Other investors criticized the lack of adequate dividend payments despite VW’s robust quarterly results. A number of shareholders planned to withhold their support for VW’s executives and supervisory board during a vote later Tuesday.
But withholding support will have little real impact as more than half of voting rights are held by the Porsche and Piech families. Another 20 per cent is owned by the state of Lower Saxony.