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Germany orders mass recall of VW cars

Germany has ordered Volkswagen to recall 2.4 million diesel vehicles that are outfitted with software designed to cheat on emissions tests. The mandatory callbacks will start at the beginning of 2016.

German regulator KBA, the country's automotive watchdog, said Thursday it would not sign off on a plan by Europe's largest automaker to remove deceptive software from affected cars on a voluntary basis.

"We are ordering the recall," a KBA spokesman said hours before German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt confirmed the impending directive.

Speaking to reporters, Dobrindt said the embattled automaker would start its recall early next year. The company has until the end of November to come up with a plan for implementing the necessary technical fixes.

"The recall will begin at the start of 2016. The KBA will monitor the start of the recall actions and its progress," Dobrindt said.

Four hundred of VW's top managers will gather in Leipzig later in the day to hear the company's new chief executive, Matthias Müller, give a detailed presentation of how he is dealing with the crisis.

Tax breaks

VW is under pressure to identify those responsible for the emissions deception and replace parts or update software in 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide. The scandal has throttled the embattled automaker's stock and shaken its reputation as a bellwether of German efficiency and reliability.

Also on Thursday, another German cabinet official said the government in Berlin should think about scrapping tax breaks for diesel cars and instead use the money to promote electric vehicles.

"That's an idea we should consider," Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told German TV station ZDF.

VW has already made a number of strategic decisions in the wake of the disclosure that it knowingly lied about the true level of its cars' toxic output. One of those decisions was to

slash its annual investment budget

by 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion), which the company announced Tuesday.

cjc/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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