Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn becomes first victim in “Dieselgate,” resigns from position

Oh man, things for Volkswagen just aren’t going very well as the diesel emissions scandal seems to be growing and growing in its intricacies and how deeply rooted the issue is.

If you’re Internet and access to digital mediums have been broken, Volkswagen’s been in the headlines recently after allegedly cheating on its emissions tests for its diesel models in the US, with a secret code embedded in the car’s computer. The code would trick the EPA’s emissions testing equipment into reducing the NOx and CO2 emissions during the tests only, allowing the cars to pass.

The cars would then resort to functioning regularly under normal driving conditions, where researchers at West Virginia University, discovered the TDI models would produce and emit up to 40 times more the allowable amount of pollutants into the atmosphere.

As the investigation, deepens, predictions are running amok suggesting the issue isn’t just confined to US-market TDI Volkswagens, but Audis as well, and possibly, an additional 11 million cars worldwide. With so much of a burden surfacing, Volkswagen’s own CEO, Martin Winterkorn, couldn’t take any more of the heat–so he officially announced his resignation.

Winterkorn originally apologized for “compromising the trust” of its customers with such a scandal, though he also claimed to have not been aware of any wrongdoing. He also said he was stunned by the level and scale of such misconduct, and never knew it was possible in the Volkswagen Group. Whether you believe that or not is up to you.

“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,” Winterkorn said in his statement. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part.”

Volkswagen launched a major external investigation into the matter, which has led to the company’s stock dropping nearly 20% in value while speculation expects a major overhaul within Volkswagen AG’s workforce.

A meeting is scheduled this Friday to determine who will take Winterkorn’s place.

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STATEMENT BY PROF. DR. WINTERKORN

Sep 23, 2015

“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.

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. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part.

Volkswagen needs a fresh start – also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.

I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life.

The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis.”

Volkswagen Group Communications
Head of Corporate & Business Communications

###

STATEMENT FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF VOLKSWAGEN AG’S SUPERVISORY BOARD

Sep 23, 2015

In a meeting on Wednesday, September 23, the Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG discussed in detail the manipulation of emissions data of Volkswagen Group diesel engines and came to the following conclusions:

1. The Executive Committee takes this matter extremely seriously.  The Executive Committee recognizes not only the economic damage caused, but also the loss of trust among many customers worldwide.

2. The Executive Committee agrees that these incidents need to be clarified with great conviction and that mistakes are corrected.  At the same time, the Executive Committee is adamant that it will take the necessary decisive steps to ensure a credible new beginning.

3. 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. The Executive Committee notes that Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data. The Executive Committee has tremendous respect for his willingness to nevertheless assume responsibility and, in so doing, to send a strong signal both internally and externally. Dr. Winterkorn  has made invaluable contributions to Volkswagen. The company’s rise to global company is inextricably linked to his name. 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. This attitude is illustrious.

4. Recommendations for new personnel will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the Supervisory Board this Friday.

5. The Executive Committee is expecting further personnel consequences in the next days. The 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.

6. The Executive Committee have decided that the company will voluntarily submit a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office in Brunswick. In the view of the Executive Committee criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities. The investigations of the State Prosecutor will be supported in all form from the side of Volkswagen.

7. The Executive Committee proposes that the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG create a special committee, under whose leadership further clarifying steps will follow, including the preparation of the necessary consequences. In this regard, the Special Committee would make use of external advice. Further details about this will be decided at the Supervisory Board meeting on Friday.

8. The Executive Committee is aware that coming to terms with the crisis of trust will be a long term task that requires a high degree of consistency and thoroughness.

9. The Executive Committee will work on these tasks together with the employees and the Management Board. Volkswagen is a magnificent company that depends on the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people. We consider it our task that this company regains the trust of our customers in every respect.

– By: Chris Chin

 


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