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Volkswagen: No mass rigging of fuel consumption data

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LONDON  — Volkswagen got a rare piece of good news Wednesday: The automaker did not deceive large numbers of customers about how much gas their cars were consuming.

The company — which is mired in a much bigger scandal about cheating tests for nitrogen oxide emissions — said its own suspicions that it may have understated figures for fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions, on as many as 800,000 cars were unfounded.

The company said it found “slight deviations” in just 36,000 vehicles.

Just last month, Volkswagen estimated that putting this problem right could cost it about two billion euros ($2.2 billion). Now it seems the financial impact will be negligible.

That brought some welcome relief to Volkswagen investors. The shares gained 5% in Frankfurt on Wednesday, although they’re still down 23% this year.

Still, the immediate future for the automaker and its shareholders depends on the financial and brand damage caused by the emissions cheating scandal. Volkswagen has said that could affect as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

Volkswagen posted a loss of 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in the third quarter after taking a charge of 6.7 billion euros ($7.3 billion) related to the cost of recalling and fixing those cars. But that doesn’t include fines, penalties or compensation, and analysts expect the final bill to run to tens of billions of euros.

The company is due to hold a news conference at 5 a.m. ET on Thursday to discuss the preliminary findings of an investigation into the diesel emissions scandal, and its restructuring plans.