Volkswagen chief executive Winterkorn to leave firm over emissions scandal

The global chief executive of Volkswagen has resigned, following days of negative press for the carmaker over some diesels models apparently using technology enabling them to avoid compliance with US emissions regulations.

Winterkorn in an apologetic video yesterday
Winterkorn in an apologetic video yesterday

On Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency accused the firm of placing "defeat device" software which avoided pollution controls on nearly half a million US cars to avoid emissions regulations. The firm instructed US dealers to stop selling certain models on Saturday, and contrite apologies followed on Sunday from global CEO Martin Winterkorn and on Monday from US president and CEO Michael Horn.

Speaking to PRWeek, US PR professionals recommended yesterday that Winterkorn's departure would be "a step in the right direction", with the company denying the same day that he had already been sacked.

Following a board meeting and a profit warning, Winterkorn today said he wished to leave his role.

A statement from the board's executive committee set out nine conclusions from the earlier board meeting. These included respecting Winterkorn's decision to resign, acknowledging the severity of the situation and promising to "take the necessary decisive steps to ensure a credible new beginning".

It also said it was "expecting further personnel consequences" as internal investigations continued "at a high tempo" and that it would form a new board committee to oversee the response to the crisis.

In a separate statement also issued from Wolfsburg, the firm's hometown in Germany, Winterkorn said: "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."

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