Martin Winterkorn resigns as Volkswagen AG’s CEO

Dr. Martin Winterkorn
Dr. Martin Winterkorn
Dr. Martin Winterkorn

Earlier today, Dr. Martin Winterkorn resigned as Volkswagen Auto Group’s CEO.

In a statement, Dr. Winterkorn said “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 Volkswagen Group”. He also said “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part”.

Volkswagen Board members agreed with Dr. Winterkorn’s statement and released their own statement claiming that Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data. However, Volkswagen hasn’t officially announced who will replace Dr. Winterkorn, but the organization will discuss recommendations for his replacement at an upcoming board meeting this Friday.

Early rumors indicated that Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller would become the new head of Volkswagen. But, in a report published Tuesday on Automotive News, a VW spokesperson called the alleged rumors ‘ridiculous”.

Dr. Martin Winterkorn joined Volkswagen Auto Group in 1981 as a member of the quality assurance division of Audi, before becoming the brand’s CEO in 2002. Dr. Winterkorn was appointed as the CEO of Volkswagen Auto Group in 2007. As the CEO, Dr. Winterkorn has been recognized for leading Volkswagen towards its goal of becoming the word’s largest automaker four years earlier than expected.

In the statement released earlier today, Dr. Winterkorn said he was “shocked by the events of the past few days”. He also said “Volkswagen needs a fresh start also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation”.

Volkswagen has hired U.S. law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to help it to manage the crisis which keeps growing each day and achieve a fresh start. Earlier this decade, the same law firm assisted BP during its oil leak crisis.

Dr. Winterkorn’s resignation comes just days after the company admitted that 11 million of its 2.0 L TDI 4-cylinder powered cars used a software to evade EPA and CARB’s strict emissions regulations. The company has halted the sale of the 2.0 L TDI engines in the U.S. until further notice. An article in The Detroit News reported that the EPA is now expanding its investigation to Volkswagen Group cars with the 3.0 L TDI V6 engines. This engine is found in Audi A6, A7, A8 sedans and Q5 and Q7 SUVs along with the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.

However, this is not the first time Dr. Martin Winterkorn has been under the spotlight at Volkswagen Auto Group. Earlier in April, Volkswagen Auto Group’s Chairman Ferdinand Piech wanted to fire Dr. Winterkorn from his position as the company’s CEO and eventually won the favor of the board members and was able to keep his job, while Mr. Piech was forced to resign as the company’s Chairman.

Information Source: VOLKSWAGEN, The Detroit News, Automotive News

Image Source: Getty Images/ VOLKSWAGEN