Volkswagen CEO Resigns Following Emission Scandal

In a move that was perhaps expected by many, Volkswagen’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn resigned on Wednesday, taking full responsibility for the emission scandal that has shamed the automobile giant.

Martin Winterkorn

“Volkswagen needs a fresh start — also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation,” Winterkorn said, after a meeting with the executive committee of the VW board.

The company admitted rigging of US emission tests by programming computers in its cars to detect when they were being tested. Volkswagen has not named a successor as of yet and they plan a full board meeting on Friday to discuss the next course of action. VW said on Tuesday that the company has plans to set aside $7.3 billion to cover the costs associated with the issue.

Winterkorn released a written statement on the VW website which read:

“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.”

Some attention needs to be given to the team of researchers at West Virginia University who were behind the findings of the emission scandal.  The group published their result last year detailing how Volkswagen’s diesel engines were emitting far higher emission levels during standard driving than during pollution tests. The team created rigs that fitted in the trunk that could test the emissions of  the car while driving down the highway.


After testing the VW Jetta and the VW Passat, along the West Coast, the team  found that each emitted more than 20 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides. The Environmental Protection Agency approached VW after the West Virginia findings and uncovered the biggest scam in the company’s 78-year-history.

The manipulated software affects 482,000 cars in the US, and as of now no recall has been issued. The VW board also released a statement of “conclusions” it has arrived at about the emissions scandal. The question remains who will be brave enough to take over as CEO and bring back the company from potential destruction. Follow this space for more on the scandal as it develops.

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