VW CEO Winterkorn falls on his sword

Volkswagen chief executive steps down in light of emissions scandal

Published: September 23, 2015, 10:30 AM
Updated: November 23, 2021, 2:40 PM

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn

As expected and predicted by many, Dr. Prof. Martin Winterkorn, in light of the Vokswagen emissions scandal exposed this week, has stepped down as CEO of the Volkswagen Group, perhaps with a little (or not-so-little) push.

Following a meeting of the Executive Committee of VW's Supervisory Board last night, the company released the following statement attributed to Winterkorn today:

“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.”

Winterkorn has been CEO of the Vokswagen Group since January 1, 2015, surviving a challenge to his position by long-time VW major domo and one-time mentor, Ferdinand Piech, earlier this year. The board supported Winterkorn and Piech resigned his position as Group chairman.

The Executive Committee agreed that Winterkorn was unaware of the diesel engine software programming that shut off certain emissions controls except when vehicles were undergoing emissions testing.

Nevertheless, as the man in charge, the responsibility stops with Winterkorn.