Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn
Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal has claimed its first victim: CEO Martin Winterkorn has announced that he is resigning.
Winterkorn had previously released a video apologizing for the scandal, but he stopped short of admitting knowledge of the cheating or of resigning. Today, he released a statement announcing that he has asked the Supervisory Board to accept his resignation.
“I am shocked by the events of the past few days,” the statement begins. (Safe to say you’re not alone there, Martin.) “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 clearing the way for [a] fresh start with my resignation. ”
He did not, however, admit culpability for the problem: “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part. Volkswagen needs a fresh start—also in terms of personnel,” he continues. “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.”
Between government investigations (including, now, Germany) and various lawsuits, we should eventually find out who was responsible and had knowledge of the deviant diesel-engine software. The Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board released a statement in the wake of the resignation which confirms that “Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data.”
It was only a few months ago that Winterkorn had vanquished seemingly intractable VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch, who had attempted to oust Winterkorn as CEO. Now we will see who replaces Winterkorn; one hotly discussed possibility is current Porsche CEO Matthias Müller. We could find out as soon as Friday, when the entire Volkswagen Group board is set to meet to discuss Winterkorn’s replacement, as well as more personnel changes. From the statement: “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.”