Volkswagen CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn has officially resigned in the wake of a scandal over falsified diesel emissions.
“I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group,” Winterkorn said in a statement issued announcing his resignation. “As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group,” said Winterkorn.
A meeting was set for this coming Friday to discuss the CEO’s contract moving into the future, but the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board called an emergency meeting today, where the decision was made. “The Executive Committee has great respect for Chairman Professor Dr. Winterkorn’s offer to resign his position and to ask that his employment agreement be terminated,” reads a statement from the committee.
A successor will be named this coming Friday at the Supervisory Board meeting, with rumors pointing to current head of Porsche, Matthias Müller.
Although Winterkorn says that he accepts responsibility for the issue as the CEO, he claims to have had no knowledge of the mass deception. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part,” he said. The Supervisory Board also cleared Winterkorn’s name, as the board “notes that Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data.”
The scandal began when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report claiming that VW had installed defeat devices in 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines which allowed them to run much cleaner during emissions testing, while in everyday driving they were emitting 10 to 40 times more NOx than allowed. Since then, Volkswagen admitted to using the cheating software in roughly 11 million vehicles worldwide.
The Executive Committee also revealed that this likely won’t be the only personnel change in the near future. “Internal Group investigations are continuing at a high tempo. All participants in these proceedings that has resulted in unmeasurable harm for Volkswagen, will be subject to the full consequences.”
A new special board will be created by Volkswagen to fix this issue, including preparing the necessary consequences for those responsible. More details on who will run this new board will be revealed at the meeting Friday.
Winterkorn, 68, took the reigns at VW in 2007 and led the company through a turnaround that saw VW go from cutting thousands of German jobs to being one of the largest, most powerful automakers in the world. “The company’s rise to global company is inextricably linked to his name,” reads the statement from the Executive Committee. “The Executive Committee thanks Dr. Winterkorn for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this criticall phase for the company.”
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