Volkswagen will launch a recall for cars affected by its diesel emissions crisis in January and complete the fix by the end of next year, new chief executive Matthias Mueller told a German newspaper.

"If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January. All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016," Mueller told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), according to Reuters.

For the US market, the remedy will first have to be agreed upon with Environmental Protection Agency, but a spokeswoman offered no timing for that, the news agency said.

Mueller told FAZ he believed only a few employees were involved in the diesel emissions rigging, refuting the notion his detail-oriented predecessor Martin Winterkorn must have known about it.

He said VW would have to become smaller and less centralised, adding that every model and brand would be scrutinised for its contribution to the company and singling out Bugatti.

But he said an "evolution" rather than a "revolution" was needed to get VW back on track, predicting that the company could "shine again" in two to three years.

"This crisis gives us an opportunity to overhaul Volkswagen's structures," Mueller said. "We want to make the company slimmer, more decentralised and give the brands more responsibility.