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Scale of VW's crisis makes it a particularly unusual case

New York

SOMEDAY, Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal will be studied in crisis communications textbooks. And not in a good way.

"There was something like a tsunami," said Hans-Gerd Bode, Volks-wagen's communications chief since September. "Thousands of calls and e-mails coming in at the same time. A crisis like this, the company was not prepared for," he said. With the company continuing to negotiate with foreign governments: "We don't know the right way out."

In the months since it admitted it designed its diesel cars to cheat on tailpipe-emissions tests, the company has struggled with its messaging. A low point came last month when Matthias Mueller, the new chief executive, visited the US...

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