Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced his resignation with the automaker today, September 23, in the midst of a huge diesel engine emissions scandal.
“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,” said Winterkorn in a statement.
“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 diesel engines had a special software installed in them to make them seem more efficient than they actually are. During bench tests, the software would be activated to make emissions seem lower, but during real-world driving, they were much higher.
While Volkswagen has kept mum on how the software works, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States said emissions in real-world driving conditions were up to 40 times higher than U.S. emissions regulations allow for diesel vehicles.
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said EPA’s Cynthia Giles in a statement.
“Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.”
Winterkorn himself and the Executive Committee of Volkswagen’s Supervisory Board both maintain that the ousted CEO had no knowledge of the “manipulation of emissions data” and that those involved in the scandal “will be subject to the full consequences.”
Volkswagen’s loss of public trust has resulted in a plummeting stock price – as of September 22, it had dropped more than 36 per cent.
And the automaker won’t walk away unscathed from this financially. Eleven million vehicles globally have been affected by the scandal and the company has set aside more than $9 billion to deal with removing the software from affected vehicles. That money won’t be used for extraneous costs associated with the fallout, such as legal costs.
Volkswagen Jettas (2009-2015), Golfs (2010-2015), Passats (2012-2015), Beetles (2013-2015) and Golf Sportwagon and Wagons (2009-2015) were all the Canadian cars affected by the manipulative software.