HAMBURG (Reuters) -- Volkswagen Group said it will pay any additional taxes that European motorists will be charged because their vehicles turned out to have higher CO2 emissions than stated by the automaker.
VW earlier this week said it had understated the CO2 emissions of 800,000 cars sold in Europe.
In a letter to European Union finance ministers on Friday, VW CEO Matthias Mueller asked governments to charge VW rather than motorists for any extra taxes incurred in countries where vehicle taxes were related to fuel usage or CO2 emissions.
VW's CO2 disclosure follows the automaker's admission in September that up to 11 million cars sold globally by its VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat and VW light commercial vehicles brands had software that could cheat tests for harmful NOx emissions.
Some analysts have said that VW could face a bill as high as 35 billion euros ($38 billion) for fines, lawsuits and vehicle refits.
To help meet some of those costs, VW plans a 1 billion-euro program of spending cuts. VW's powerful works council challenged the cuts, signalling that an internal battle is looming at a company.
Bernd Osterloh, the head of the works council, said the announcement of the cuts had broken strict rules in Germany on consultation with workers, and demanded immediate talks with company bosses. "Management is announcing savings measures unilaterally and without any foundation," Osterloh said in a statement.
Since the emissions scandal began, VW has been criticized by lawmakers, regulators, investors and customers frustrated at the time it is taking to get to the bottom of a crisis that has wiped almost a third off the company's market value.
"Volkswagen is so far not handling the scandal correctly," Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board which is investigating VW in the U.S., said in an interview with German weekly magazine WirtschaftsWoche.
"Every additional gram of nitrogen oxide increases the health risks for our citizens. Volkswagen has not acknowledged that in any way or made any effort to really solve the problem," she was quoted as saying.
The case is "the biggest direct breach of laws that I have ever uncovered. This is a serious issue, which will certainly lead to very high penalties," she said.