Martin Winterkorn Resigns as CEO of Volkswagen, "Accepts Responsibility" for Diesel Scandal

Martin Winterkorn Resigns as CEO of Volkswagen, "Accepts Responsibility" for Diesel Scandal 1 photo
Photo: Volkswagen
Volkswagen's official media website has just released a short statement from Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn. The man who's been at the helm of the company for the past seven years says he accepts responsibility for the huge scandal regarding manipulated diesel emissions and will step down from his position.
Until the Supervisory Board board meets on Friday, Winterkorn is still the official CEO. But there is little he can do except help play his part in reducing the damage caused to the brand.

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

Even though he denies any involvement, Winterkorn's name will forever be associated with Dieselgate. That's why a new face is needed if loyal customers are ever going to regain their trust.

In a previous statement, the same official said the following: "The irregularities that have been found in our Group’s diesel engines go against everything Volkswagen stands for. At present, we do not yet have all the answers to all the questions. But we are working hard to find out exactly what happened. To do that, we are putting everything on the table, as quickly, thoroughly and transparently as possible. And we continue to cooperate closely with the relevant government organizations and authorities."

The full ramifications of the TDI scandal are yet to be revealed, as the EPA has also begun investigating larger 3-liter TDI engines fitted to Audi or Porsche models. Other companies might also use similar systems to artificially lower emissions and comply to the standard.

One thing is for sure, this will not be a quick fix. Some of the models involved were found to pollute up to 40 times more than the legal limit. Passat models that have AdBlue installed on their 2.0 TDI engines were a lot better, but still came between 5 to 15 times the legal limit.

Volkswagen said yesterday that it was setting aside €6.5 billion ($7.3 billion) to cover the damages caused by the Dieselgate scan. However, most would agree that's nowhere near enough, as it means only €590 for each one of the 11 million potentially flawed TDI engines. In addition, the EPA could impose a historic $18 billion fine.

European company branches have told their customers new cars with Euro 6 engines fully comply with EU regulation. Only when the dust settles will we know how many of the 11 million cars affected need serious modifications and how those might affect performance or consumption.

Reports suggest Porsche Chief Executive Officer Matthias Müller will replace Winterkorn. We'll know more on Friday, when the head of a special task-force to oversee this scandal will also be named.

Shares rise 5% in Germany

Volkswagen AG has been a nightmare for investors and share holders. Stocks fell from nearly €170 down to just €106 in a matter of two days. However, Volkswagen is currently up 5.5% today, pulling the DAX German index with it.

International scandal

Die Welt
reports that the German Government and European Union both knew Volkswagen was rigging emissions tests and failed to take action. In an official statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Volkswagen to take swift action and rectify the situation. Considering many of the 600,000 people that work for the company are German, her concern is not unfounded.

Meanwhile, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said she would take "extremely severe" measures if Volkswagen was found with similar emissions rigging devices in her country. Even the South Korean government has started an separate inquiry.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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