Volkswagen U.S. CEO Steps Down Amid Emissions Scandal

Image courtesy of Sarah

Six months after Volkswagen admitted to using “defeat device” technology to skirt emissions tests on its so-called “clean diesel” cars, the carmaker’s U.S. chief has stepped down.

The New York Times reports that Michael Horn, who has been the U.S.-based CEO for VW since 2014, unexpectedly stepped down on Wednesday.

VW says Horn’s departure, which is effective immediately, was reached by “mutual agreement.” However, the company did not offer additional details on the move, except to say that Horn was free to pursue other opportunities.

Michael Horn spoke about VW's use of "defeat devices" during a Senate hearing in October.

Michael Horn spoke about VW’s use of “defeat devices” during a Senate hearing in October.

Horn will be replaced by Heinrich J. Woebcken, the current head of the North American region and chairman of VW Group of America.

Analysts tell the Times that Horn’s departure was an interesting step for the carmaker, as he had served as the company’s face for the scandal, attempting to repair the company’s image in the U.S. by offering incentives for VW owners and dealers alike. Additionally, he had many allies in the U.S. auto industry, Akshay Anand, an analyst with Kelly Blue Book says.

“The Volkswagen leadership hammer continues to fall,” Anand tells the Times. “It will be interesting to see if Woebcken can continue that, and more importantly, if he can help VW navigate through its crisis.”

Head of VW’s U.S. Unit Is Out, and Dealers Are Alarmed [The New York Times]