Crisis and cultural change

With considerable effort

30. September 2017
Illustrations: Shutterstock

In 2015, Volkswagen AG commissioned the US law firm Jones Day to conduct an “external investigation” to shed light on events and responsibilities in the context of the diesel scandal. The internal audit department also conducted investigations and handed its findings over to the external legal experts. In January 2017, the company reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice, which was accompanied by the publication of a “Statement of Facts.” When the settlement agreements came into effect, Jones Day’s original task was fulfilled. In the light of international proceedings against the company, the fact-finding mission continues, however, assisted by a number of other law firms. An auditing company is providing the teams with operational support.

Univers of numbers

In order to investigate the diesel crisis, an enormous amount of data is being collected. An overview.

550 terabytes

is the approximate amount of data seized in the course of the investigation by US law firm Jones Day. This is one of the largest volumes of data ever collected in business history.


interviews were conducted by Jones Day with employees of the Volkswagen Group in Germany and abroad.


This is the approximate number of people whose data was seized in Germany and the US for the Jones Day investigation.


data carriers such as servers, computers and cellphones were accessed to obtain the data.


internal and external experts, including attorneys and technicians, have been involved in the investigation thus far.

The investigation into these events is still ongoing. It will keep us busy into next year.
Hans Dieter Pötsch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Volkswagen Group


1. Less is more

In the first step, experts use keywords to filter out relevant information. They also target specific individuals, organizational units and time periods.

2. Separating the wheat from the chaff

The data that is obtained is then reviewed by a large team for its actual significance. The reviewers flag the relevant documents.

3. The devil in the details

A smaller team of specialists then checks documents flagged as relevant. If a certain number of relevant documents is reached, the rest of the data can also be analyzed using algorithms.

4. Putting the pieces together

The specialists attempt to ascertain the background to the events. For example, they might interview people about the origins of the documents.

Audio benches
Listen in!
Visitors can take a seat on a bench and listen in on conversations about five contentious topics that also concern Volkswagen Group.
Crisis and cultural change
Two years later
The date is inscribed in the collective memory of the Group: on September 18, 2015, the diesel crisis came to light. Here are key events from...