Embattled car-maker Volkswagen is working hard to minimise its emissions-test scandal.

The company says a small handful of employees were responsible for the software that was found to cheat US diesel emissions tests, and certainly no board members were involved.

Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch says the scandal was the result of a “chain of errors”, and it would be months before it was clear which individuals were to blame.

“No business justifies crossing legal and ethical boundaries,” Mr Poetsch said.

“Even though we cannot prevent misconduct by individuals once and for all, in future it will be very difficult to bypass our processes.

“We are talking here not about a one-off mistake but a chain of errors.

“Based on what we know today, it was a very limited group which acted irresponsibly.”

Volkswagen is working on an agreement with US environmental authorities that would allow it to start recalling affected cars there.

But despite the scandal, orders are up by 3.5 per cent this year.

It also forced the recognition of VW’s long-time chief executive and wiped 13 per cent (about 10 billion Euros) off its market value.

However, the executives said the legal cost of the scandal could take a big toll on the company, as it had made no provisions to cover fees.

Chief executive Matthias Mueller will soon visit the United States for the first time since becoming chief executive after the scandal broke. He says he will apologise for the situation, but added: “I don't think I will be going down on my knees there ... I will look ahead optimistically and confidently.”

Around 11 million cars around the world have the software installed that defeats emissions tests.

The costs of fixing the cars, paying fines and dealing with legal challenges are estimated to hit tens of billions of euros.

Mr Mueller said it was fairly cheap and simple to fix the affected cars.

He said he was often asked why the company did not do so in the first place, and claimed that the technology for the fix was not available when the cars were built.