It’s not a good time to be the CEO of the Volkswagen Group.
Europe’s largest carmaker is under fire for cheating on emissions tests with its 2.0-liter diesel engines and may be slapped with the largest ever fine an automaker has seen in the United States.
VW won’t have it easier in Europe either, as it confirmed yesterday that there are roughly 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide that have the “defeat device” first detected in the United States. Since Europe is the largest market in the world for diesel cars, it’s safe to assume most of those cars are in European countries.
Although VW has acknowledged the issue and has apologized in a press release for cheating on emissions tests, the company also issued a video apology from CEO Martin Winterkorn. It’s obviously a crisis management attempt to buy some more time until the true scale of the disaster is known and more details emerge on how the blatant cheating was possible.
Besides apologizing to customers, authorities and the general public, Winterkorn also apologizes to VW Group’s 600,000 employees worldwide, and for good reason. “It would be wrong to cast general suspicion on the honest, hard work of 600,000 people because of the mistakes made by only a few. Our team simply does not deserve that,” the executive says in the video.
Here’s another memorable quote: “Manipulation and Volkswagen – that must never be allowed to happen again.” The big question is whether Winterkorn knew about the “defeat devices”. If he did, there’s no doubt that he has to go. If he didn’t know, he has to explain to the world how was this possible under his watch. Either way, the future does not look bright for Winterkorn.