Volkswagen Group plans to inform customers “in the next few weeks and months” of how it will recall vehicles from its Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW Commercial Vehicles brands that are fitted with an emissions cheat device.
Board member Olaf Lies told BBC’s Newsnight the company had no idea of the total bill to sort out the engines and cover any legal costs arising.
"Huge damage has been done because millions of people have lost their faith in VW. We are surely going to have a lot of people suing for damages. We have to recall lots of cars and it has to happen really fast."
VW is working out how to refit the software in the 11 million diesel engines involved in the emissions scandal.
Seat is the latest VW brand to reveal it also used the emission cheat device.
Broken down brand-by-brand they are Volkswagen - 5m; Audi - 2.1m; Skoda - 1.2m; Seat - 700,000 VW Commercial Vehicles - 1.8m.
He added that the company was strong and that rebuilding trust - and ensuring the majority of the 600,000 workers at the car giant were not blamed - was its priority.
Lies said some company staff have acted criminally over emission cheat tests and they must take personal responsibility.
He also told Newsnight that the executive board in Germany only learned of the issue shortly before the media and it wants to know why it wasn’t informed months ago when the problem was first discovered in the USA.
He also added his apology to those already made by senior company figures and said he was “ashamed” that people who bought cars with complete confidence are so disappointed.
Separately, Volkswagen announced its action plan to correct the emissions of diesel vehicles.
Owners will be informed that the emissions characteristics of their vehicles will be corrected "in the near future".
Under the action plan, Volkswagen and the other group brands will present the technical solutions and measures to the responsible authorities in October.
"Customers with these vehicles will be kept informed over the coming weeks and months. All of the group brands affected will set up national websites to update customers on developments," a VW statement reads.