In a video statement on the corporate website, Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn on Tuesday said he was "terribly sorry" for the emissions cheating scandal that rocked the German auto maker.
Winterkorn emphasized the scam "contradicted everything that Volkswagen stands for."
"I formally apologize to our customers, the authorities and to the public in general for this misconduct," he said in the online video.
The CEO promised that the scandal would be fully investigated, adding that all facts needed to be put on the table as quickly as possible and with the greatest possible degree of transparency.
Heads to roll?
Winterkorn provided no hint as to whether he'd step down from his post as a result of the scandal.
He said "it would be an error if the huge mistakes of a few people were seen as a reason to place the honest work of 600,000 people under blanket suspicion; that's why I'm asking for your trust as we continue on our way."
Workers' representatives on VW's supervisory board had reportedly pushed for heads to roll.
"We can assure you that we will do everything possible to ensure the matter is cleared up quickly and that personnel consequences are drawn," Works Council chief Bernd Osterloh told employees on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it emerged that the emissions fixing could be a global - not just a US - problem, with as many as 11 million cars from the Volkswagen AG family potentially affected. The cases revolve around diesel-powered models.
VW's share price, already reeling from a difficult day's trade on Monday, was down almost 20 percent on Tuesday at around 106 euros ($118) per share. In March this year, the same stocks were selling for more than 250 euros each.
hg/msh (dpa, AFP)