Volkswagen’s CEO is stepping down, several days after the automaker’s emissions scandal first made headlines.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered the company to recall roughly half a million vehicles from as early as 2009, because the world’s biggest carmaker deliberately skirted emissions results through installed devices.
On Sunday, Dr. Martin Winterkorn admitted the organization’s wrongdoing and said he was “deeply sorry” to have broken consumers’ trust.
On Tuesday, the crisis grew as Volkswagen revealed that there were emissions discrepancies in 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide.
Winterkorn said in a statement that he was “stunned” by the actions of his organization but is convinced the “team will overcome this grave crisis”:
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.
The company’s stock price has plummeted, and Volkswagen has set aside $7.3 billion to cover its recalls and for other efforts to mitigate damage to the brand.
However, the organization could face additional global recalls as well as civil and criminal fines in the United States.
Consumers are also lashing out against the automaker. More than 4.3 million people have engaged with brand representatives online in the past six days.
Talkwalker data revealed that of Volkswagen’s nearly 900,000 mentions within that time period, nearly 43 percent are negative.
CNN Money reported that the company’s directors said the misconduct has caused “unmeasurable harm” to Volkswagen.