Volkswagen Group CEO, Dr Martin Winterkorn, has officially resigned from the post, amid what certain media dubbed, the “dieselgate” scandal involving Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles in the United States.
In a statement released to the media, 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.”
Volkswagen Group is alleged to have used an illegal computer code in their software to allow a reported 482,000 diesel engined vehicles to pass emissions tests in the US. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the code has allowed the said vehicles to produce “up to 40 times” the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides.
The software is alleged to engage full emission control when the cars were put through the emissions tests, but deactivated away from the test bench. Affected vehicles is said to include 2009-2015 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat as well as the Audi A3 – all equipped with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine.
The Group is facing possible fines of up to US$18 billion (US$37,500 per vehicle) as well as a criminal investigation by the US Justice Department.
The company’s shares plunged 23% when market opened on Monday and is said to have wiped at least €15.6 billion off its market value.