Bundesliga soccer clubs Hannover 96, Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 as well as second division 1860 Munich are on the list of sponsorships Volkswagen AG is considering dropping to cut costs amid its emissions scandal, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported.
Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, is battling the biggest business crisis in its 78-year history after admitting in September it installed software in diesel vehicles to deceive U.S. regulators about the true level of their toxic emissions.
On Friday, it cut 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from its 2016 investment plan, as its emissions cheating scandal expanded to include tens of thousands more U.S. vehicles. Auto analysts say the company could face a bill as high as 35 billion euros for fines, lawsuits and vehicle refits. According to Bild am Sonntag, Volkswagen spends about 1.5 million euros per season on each of the soccer clubs it could now cut from its sponsorship list. In addition, Volkswagen may drop its 5 million-euro-a-year sponsorship of ice hockey club Grizzlys Wolfsburg, the paper said.
Volkswagen said soccer was a major pillar of its sponsoring strategy that it would continue to pursue in the future. "It has not yet been decided what the volume of that will be," it said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday.
Last month, soccer club VfL Wolfsburg said it had postponed plans for a new multimillion-euro youth training centre after VW's emissions scandal.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen denied a report on Saturday that its sales have slumped since this month's admission that it had understated the level of carbon dioxide emissions for some cars. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had reported earlier on Saturday that Volkswagen's sales were declining significantly, citing an unnamed dealer as saying business was "dead as a doornail".
"We cannot confirm the statement quoted in FAZ," a spokesman for Volkswagen told Reuters in an e-mailed statement. "The feedback we are receiving from discussions with representatives of various dealerships across the country, as well as the numbers we have, paint a different picture of the situation in Germany," he added.
VW said on Nov. 3 it had understated the level of CO2 emissions from about 800,000 cars sold mainly in Europe, and consequently their fuel usage. That revelation deepened a crisis at Europe's biggest carmaker which initially centred on software on up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that VW admitted vastly understated their actual emissions of smog-causing pollutant nitrogen oxide. Sales of Volkswagen-branded cars fell 5.3 percent in October, the first full month after the scandal erupted, a slightly steeper decline than September's 4 percent drop.