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VW's U.S. reputation won't suffer long amid emissions scandal, German official says

WASHINGTON -- Volkswagen AG's reputation in the U.S. shouldn't suffer lasting damage from an emissions-cheating scandal that has reduced sales and added billions of dollars of recall-related costs, Germany's transport minister said during a visit to Washington.

Alexander Dobrindt, a minister in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, told reporters Tuesday he believes U.S. regulators view as a one-time incident VW's admission that it skirted clean-air laws.

"I got the impression that the U.S. authorities view this as one specific problem, namely the technical issues associated with Volkswagen," Dobrindt said at the German embassy.

Dobrindt met Monday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss Germany's' probe of VW for installing software in millions of vehicles that allowed it to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

He met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Tuesday.

"I made very clear again that we in Germany and Europe have a great interest in diesel technology," he said. "The EPA too expressed agreement with this position and acknowledged and emphasized the role played by diesel engines in reducing carbon emissions."

Recall timetable

"EPA avoided any comment on legal aspects of the scandal," Dobrindt said. "Their focus right now is on the technical aspects of the situation."

It will be at least a few more weeks before there's a timetable for Volkswagen recalls in the U.S., Dobrindt said.

"In the U.S. there are still no plans for a comprehensive recall, there is still no clear course for how the technical aspects will be handled," he said. "It will take another couple of weeks before we know how the technical modifications can be made."

The EPA and the California Air Resources Board disclosed in September that VW rigged cars to pass emissions tests. Sales have slowed enough that the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company lost its lead in global auto sales.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it sold 7.49 million vehicles worldwide through September, compared with 7.43 million for VW.

Dobrindt vowed to work jointly with his U.S. counterparts as investigations on both sides of the Atlantic proceed. Germany's decision to share details of its investigation with authorities in the U.S. shouldn't be considered extraordinary, Dobrindt said.

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