Volkswagen CEO Resigns Amid Emissions Violation Scandal

jettadieselgrabLess than a week after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Volkswagen to recall nearly 500,000 vehicles equipped with software that tricked emissions tests, the company’s CEO announced he would resign.

The Telegraph reports that CEO Martin Winterkorn told the company’s board he would leave his post amid the growing scandal that now covers 11 million VW and Audi vehicles world wide.

In his resignation speech, Winterkorn said he was “shocked” by the events of the past few days, adding “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,” he said. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part.”

While a successor has yet to be named, Winterkorn suggested that VW needs a fresh start.

“I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation,” he says. “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 EPA’s announcement of the ordered recall on Friday has set off a string of reactions from the car company and others.

Shortly after the recall was announced, our colleagues at Consumer Reports decided to suspend the “Recommended” ratings it had previously given the Passat diesel and Jetta diesel.

“These recommendations will be suspended until Consumer Reports can re-test these vehicles with a recall repair performed,” reads a statement from the publication. “Once the emissions systems are functioning properly, we will assess whether the repair has adversely affected performance or fuel economy.”

On Sunday, the carmaker announced it would stop the sale of all affected vehicle models until the issue was fixed.

And on Monday, it was rumored that the Department of Justice is considering bringing criminal charges against VW.

While last week’s recall of three VW clean diesel models and one Audi vehicle only affected around 500,000 cars in the U.S., Volkswagen revealed this Tuesday that the defeat device software was installed in around 11 million cars worldwide.

The company, whose stock price plummeted in the wake of Friday’s announcement, says it is setting aside $7.3 billion to cover the cost of “necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers.”

Following General Motors’ ignition switch debacle — a long-delayed recall that resulted in more than 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries because neither the company nor federal regulators thought it merited a safety risk — and the ongoing recall of millions of cars fitted with Takata airbags that could explode and spew deadly shrapnel, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s time for everyone to stop taking things for granted.

“We’re questioning everything now,” said NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind at the Automotive Industry Action Group conference earlier today.

Volkswagen scandal: CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns in wake of emissions deception: live [The Telegraph]

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