Volkswagen Group will have completed fixes to cars fitted with illegal ‘defeat devices’ by the end of next year.
Recalls of affected Euro V diesels in Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi vehicles will start in January.
Group chief executive Matthias Mueller said in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “"If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January.
“All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016."
A high number of the vehicles are repairable with a software update, Mueller said, but some may need more detailed work. This would be done at no cost to the vehicle owner.
He also told the newspaper he believes only a few employees were involved in the diesel emissions rigging.
VW has said eight million vehicles in the EU were fitted with software which helped cheat emissions tests.
He said VW would have to become smaller and less centralized, through "evolution" rather than a "revolution" and predicted the company could "shine again" in two to three years.
"This crisis gives us an opportunity to overhaul Volkswagen's structures. We want to make the company slimmer, more decentralized and give the brands more responsibility."