'A Catastrophe': How the German Media Reacted to the VW Scandal

German media have reacted furiously to the scandal engulfing Volkswagen (VW) that is threatening the reputation of the country's automotive industry.

VW admitted on Tuesday that some 11 million cars were fitted with defeat devices which rigged vehicle emission tests of diesel cars in the U.S. and that it was setting aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to deal with fallout from the debacle. Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has now raised concerns that the scandal could jeopardise the "justifiably excellent reputation of the German car industry."

The widespread use of defeat devices in VW diesel cars means that they may be responsible for almost one million tonnes of air pollution per year—roughly equivalent to the total emissions for all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture in the U.K., according to analysis by The Guardian.

In an editorial on Monday, German financial newspaper Handelsblatt said that the VW scandal was "a catastrophe for the entire German car industry", suggesting that the affair could have wide-ranging implications for an industry which prides itself on reliability and trust. Broadcasters ARD said it constituted the "worst-case scenario" for VW, which is the world's largest car manufacturer by sales according to AFP.

Shares in VW fell by a further 8 percent on Wednesday morning, following a 19.8 percent fall on Tuesday and 18.6 percent fall on Monday, the Financial Times reported. The potential economic losses for the company led German publication Die Welt to call the scandal "the most expensive act of stupidity in the history of the car industry."

Ahead of a meeting of the company's directors on Wednesday afternoon, the spotlight has focused firmly on VW's chief executive Martin Winterkorn, who has said he is "endlessly sorry" for the affair but has so far resisted pressure to resign.

In an editorial published on Tuesday evening, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung concluded that Winterkorn must step down in light of the crisis. Bild, the popular German tabloid, published a letter from Bernd Osterloh, works council chief at VW and a member of the supervisory board, in which he warned that, "We will do everything possible... to ensure that the matter is cleared up quickly and that personnel consequences are drawn. And that will not just affect the rank and file, I can assure you."

The topic has also lit up social media, with people using the hashtag #VWSlogans to make some pointed suggestions for a new brand image for the company:

#VWSlogans pic.twitter.com/t4sfUU0FcE

— Grand Prix Diary (@GrandPrixDiary) September 23, 2015

Good luck to the team doing VW's advertising at the moment. "Gotta go somehow" might work.

— Al Murray - DKMS.ORG.UK (@almurray) September 23, 2015