Volkswagen CEO Resigns as NOxGate Crisis Spirals

In Germany, Dr. Martin Winterkorn has resigned as CEO of Volkswagen Group AG. No successor has yet been named.

The VW board indicated that a new CEO will be named by Friday, and that further changes in personnel would happen rapidly as an investigation into a scheme to defraud emissions regulators on NOx emissions unfolds.

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days,” Winterkorn said in a statement distributed via the company website. “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.”

As Biofuels Digest reported, a six-year Volkswagen scheme to defraud emissions regulators, uncovered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and disclosed publicly in recent days, is leading to more investigations.

In Washington, EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 carry a “defeat device” which circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.

Specifically, the EPA alleges that a sophisticated software algorithm on certain Volkswagen vehicles detects when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and turns full emissions controls on only during the test.

The German Government is denying reports that it “knew about VW emissions rigging but did nothing to stop it” according to a report in the UK’s Daily Telegraph. The charges stem from allegations by the German Greens that the government knew of the emissions controls devices, which prompted an ambiguous answer from the government until Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt flatly denied personally knowing of the scheme, without denying that the government as a whole was uninformed.

In Italy, regulators are not waiting on calls for an EU-wide investigation and have launched their own.

VW, meanwhile, confirmed that as many as 11 million of its cars are carrying “defeat devices” designed to evade pollution controls. The company said it has established a 6.5 billion euros pool to cover costs associated with the scandal, which could include fines, recalls or other measures aimed at restoring public trust in VW. 

Volkswagen Group share prices have fallen 35 percent this week, trading at $109.50, down from a high of $169.50 last week.

In Washington, the EPA has not yet ordered a recall of as many as 482,000 vehicles equipped with defeat devices, but is expected to do so.

Biofuels Digest previously reported on earlier announced investigations in South Korea and Switzerland, and reaction from components maker Bosch, who said it was VW’s role to integrate and design the use of any component it ordered for its vehicles.

This article was compiled from reports by Biofuels Digest and was reprinted with permission.

Lead image credit: Biofuels Digest

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