By on September 23, 2015

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As part of now-former CEO Martin Winterkorn’s resignation, the Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG’s Supervisory Board has also issued a statement.

Cliff’s Notes: If you helped engineer the “defeat device,” you might want to polish your LinkedIn profile.

The statement was delivered in point form as follows:

  1. The Executive Committee takes this matter extremely seriously. The Executive Committee recognizes not only the economic damage caused, but also the loss of trust among many customers worldwide.
  2. The Executive Committee agrees that these incidents need to be clarified with great conviction and that mistakes are corrected. At the same time, the Executive Committee is adamant that it will take the necessary decisive steps to ensure a credible new beginning.
  3. The Executive Committee has great respect for Chairman Professor Dr. Winterkorn’s offer to resign his position and to ask that his employment agreement be terminated. The Executive Committee notes that Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data. The Executive Committee has tremendous respect for his willingness to nevertheless assume responsibility and, in so doing, to send a strong signal both internally and externally. Dr. Winterkorn has made invaluable contributions to Volkswagen. The company’s rise to global company is inextricably linked to his name. The Executive Committee thanks Dr. Winterkorn for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this criticall phase for the company. This attitude is illustrious.
  4. Recommendations for new personnel will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the Supervisory Board this Friday.
  5. The Executive Committee is expecting further personnel consequences in the next days. The internal Group investigations are continuing at a high tempo. All participants in these proceedings that has resulted in unmeasurable harm for Volkswagen, will be subject to the full consequences.
  6. The Executive Committee have decided that the company will voluntarily submit a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office in Brunswick. In the view of the Executive Committee criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities. The investigations of the State Prosecutor will be supported in all form from the side of Volkswagen.
  7. The Executive Committee proposes that the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG create a special committee, under whose leadership further clarifying steps will follow, including the preparation of the necessary consequences. In this regard, the Special Committee would make use of external advice. Further details about this will be decided at the Supervisory Board meeting on Friday.
  8. The Executive Committee is aware that coming to terms with the crisis of trust will be a long term task that requires a high degree of consistency and thoroughness.
  9. The Executive Committee will work on these tasks together with the employees and the Management Board. Volkswagen is a magnificent company that depends on the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people. We consider it our task that this company regains the trust of our customers in every respect.

(Emphasis mine.)

Winterkorn may be the first, but he certainly won’t be the last victim of the Great Volkswagen Engineer Cull of 2015. Expect heads to roll in the next few days and for the Supervisory Board to shuttle them out the back door.

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40 Comments on “VW Supervisory Board: Heads Will Continue to Roll...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Chairman Professor Dr. Winterkorn”

    How can you be a “professor” and a PhD in the same breath? Maybe he’s an M.D.?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Does he prefer to be called Herr Doktor or Herr Professor or Herr Chairman?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’d go with Herr Doktor, personally.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Herr Doktor Professor, most likely.

          Germans take academic titles *very seriously*.

          (To answer the original question, a PhD is anyone with a doctorate of philosophy [which is most doctorates, for historical reasons, but not those of medicine or law, for instance].

          In Germany especially [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_ranks_in_Germany] “Professor” is a very specific academic title related to a University teaching position – even more limited than its use in the US, where “anyone teaching at a college” might be “Professor”.

          And that’s why a German who is both a Doktor and a Professor will expect to hear both titles in any vaguely formal situation.)

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            (See also Porsche’s full historical name, “Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH”.

            Doktor Ingenieur honoris causa Ferdinand Porsche; Doctor Engineer (honorary) F Porsche.

            Very serious about academic titles.)

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      It’s different in Germany.
      PhD = Doktor + Professor.

      Medical: most physicians have a Dr. med, which roughly equals Master, not MD.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    I think this sort of thing has happened before:

    http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/caterpillar-inc-diesel-engines-settlement

    The dark clouds will pass.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      The dark clouds didn’t pass at Cat, they exited the heavy truck market as a result of this.
      Navistar also got rocked over nox emissions in 2012/13. It almost took out the company, wiped their C-suite, and they’re still reeling.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Well, Navistar made a lot of bad business decisions and lost a huge customer (Ford) at the same time. The got cut out of the Ford engine business, then the Ford medium duty truck business.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Heads should’ve rolled YEARS ago!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      At least in Germany, some heads will roll. Were this an American auto company, they would apply for exemption AND a BAILOUT.

      We may find out that other auto companies selling diesels in the US may have done the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I read part of the reason of implementing a centralized bank in the first place was so the central bank could prop up its members in the event of economic panics as was seen in the 19th and 20th centuries. Issue new money, record new money as gov’t debt for collateral, and distribute new money to bailed out entity. The beauty of a scam like this is the gov’t which overseas the entity provides collateral, and of course interest, back to the central bank while the bailout out entity accepts little to no responsibility (oh and currency holders get devalued through further inflation). The only way your entity does not get bailout out once it reaches a certain level, is if it is targeted for destruction. So any large industrial or financial concern in Europe is likely to receive a bailout from the ECB and the new money paid for by whichever gov’t overseas the entity and Euro holders in the form of inflation.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          28, regardless of the reasons for the implementation of a Central Bank, it has brought international banking into the 21st century.

          My wife’s dad now lives in Germany but uses American Bank checks and American-issued credit cards to transfer money from the US to Germany, and to make his purchases on the economy.

          He rarely carries any Euro-cash. Just about everything is done by plastic over there these days.

          Check2000 did a great deal for America, but having an Automated Clearing House for banking transactions and international transfers is just super.

          Of course, it also makes it so much easier for the FBI and IRS to keep track of money transfers. But as long as everything is on the up and up, no problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “We may find out that other auto companies selling diesels in the US may have done the same thing.”

        Possible, but seems unlikely.

        Everyone else, after all, seems to have settled on a DEF system to meet emissions; VW appears to have cheated to try and avoid having to do that.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          So what is the effect of too much urea in the atmosphere?

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            Urea is a liquid at normal temperatures, so it isn’t really in the atmosphere. Plus in the SCR system it reacts with the NOx gases to form CO2 and NH3 (ammonia), and the ammonia further breaks down to N2 and H20 after reacting with more NOx.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            derekson, I remember the strong smell of urea (ammonia) whenever we used urea pellets on the roads and walkways around US military buildings in Germany.

            We could not use salt in Germany, like we did in the US, so they issued us bags and bags of bags and bags of urea pellets.

            Pallets full!

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          My guess is that VW didn’t want to make a special US-only 2.0 liter TDI any sooner than it had to.

          With Euro 6 only coming into effect this month, there was no desire to have a US-only urea system, as it would have added to costs and made European auto journalists question why the Americans were getting pollution controls that the Europeans were not. Euro 5 allowed for much higher NOx than the US Tier 2 Bin 5.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Oh man. Referred to prosecutors in the state that holds a bunch of shares in VW? VW’s version of Ray DeGiorgio isn’t going to like the next several years.

  • avatar
    jmo

    ” If you helped engineer the “defeat device,””

    But, but, I was just following orders!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A well-crafted statement, with all the right words. I like it, actually.

    They seem to get it, but the TDI cult members don’t.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    Does the Supervisory Board meet in Nuremberg?

    Sorry I’ll show myself out

  • avatar
    George B

    I was asked to fake testing this spring and I refused. Engineers are technical migrant workers who have to change employers frequently in a career. Refusing to go along with fraud can cost you a job. Participating in fraud can end your career. That said, I have identified and exploited “creative” interpretation of regulations in the past. Unlike Volkswagen, I disclosed what I was doing and got everyone involved including the regulator to agree to the interpretation before any product was sold.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d be very interested in hearing this story.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        It may not be car-related. In some of my career stops as an engineer, we’ve had to work with regulators to agree upon test conditions in order to pass a vaguely-worded rule.

        Safety-related stuff (like putting electronics in hazardous locations) is fairly narrowly defined, but even then defining the probability of certain variables is the sticking point.

        Non-safety stuff (like radio emissions) can become a safety issue under certain conditions, like interference with other devices or SAR (tissue absorption) considerations. Then you debate things like duty cycle and average power levels in order to pass the test.

        Early in my career, I flat-out refused to skirt a safety requirement in our product design, even though it would have expedited the design at lower cost. My boss – who suggested it – was unhappy but didn’t fight me. I outlasted him at the company. That was in the early 90s.

        Today, the email trail and legal ramifications would/should make people think twice about offering such suggestions. This is what astounds me about the VW story. The witch hunt right now at VW must be breathtaking.

        • 0 avatar
          mazdaman007

          @SCE to AUX
          Just have to ask if you’ve ever met John Aaron. I actually met the Apollo 12 launch CAPCOM Gerald Carr at Kennedy a few years ago. Very nice man and told some interesting stories of his time at NASA.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Huh, all the B&B saying this was an EPA led witch hunt are awful quiet here today. Because you know, the EPA is forcing a Germany company to throw their under the bus and request that the German officials do their own criminal investigation.

    I mean, intentionally breaking the rules for financial gain on a global scale over 11 million vehicles and 6 years is nothing, NOTHING we should be concerned about.

    Oh, and I don’t believe for one second that the highest levels of VW did not know this was going on. No way, no how, not at this scale, and not for this long. I’ve worked for some really f-ed up big enterprises.

    I was at Compaq on the tail end of the Rose/Pfeiffer/Gutsch/Schrock days. I was just a notch above “pawn in the game of life” status there. Compaq at the end of the good days was building computers as fast as they could in Houston, marking them shipped on the books and to shareholders, and parking them in semi trailers in a lot a few miles away from the campus, where they baked in the Texas sun. The idea at first was to cover up a bad quarter, than two, than three. The computers depreciate at a rate of about 2% to 3% per month as technology moved forward. The backlog of computers sitting in trailers grew to EIGHTEEN MONTHS. By then they were so depreciated they would never recover the fake value already reported in previous quarters, and the hard drives and other sensitive parts were destroyed in the heat.

    It was so bad, that Compaq started canceling purchase orders with Intel. The cover up was well we’re using Cyrix and AMD also and so we’re reducing volume – but they weren’t. They simply told Cyrix and AMD the same BS story – as well as share holders.

    The board didn’t know – but Rose/Pfeiffer/Schrock sure as Hell did. Pfeiffer got called into an emergency board meeting on a Sunday and was handed his own resignation letter. He was basically told, resign, or we fire you and drop a dime to the SEC. Gutsch was already a huge liability and was pushed out the door. Rose had orchestrated the DEC acquisition and in a final act of revenge (as he was fired by DEC) was made acting CEO. Schrock was already gone and running Alta-Vista into the ground, giving up the massive lead in search and services they had to Yahoo! and this small start up called Google.

    It was no big secret about the trailers, the computers rotting in them, and the cooked books. It was borderline common knowledge in the halls of Compaq if you were in the Deskpro or Presario division (I was in procurement as an engineer, so it was glaringly obvious).

    Compaq’s misdeeds shredded shareholder equity to the tune of billions, and in the end they could not digest the meal that was DEC, and merged with HP, and that meal almost killed HP on its own. The only reason people didn’t go to jail over this is Pfeiffer and Gutsch returned to Germany, and the SEC wasn’t quite hung up as they were when the Enron scandal broke on these issue. Had Compaq imploded 6 or 12 months later, Pfeiffer/Rose/Schrock would have done the perp walk due to the regulatory and political climate. They also would have likely become poster children for everything wrong with the exuberance in the tech sector at the turn of the millennia.

    Long story – but the point is you can’t convince me Herr Doktor knew nothing. NOTHING!!!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      That dude is all about the details. He knew. No doubt about it. If the man is personally taking measurements of a Hyundai i30 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, he knows what is going on with his own company’s vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I could envision a scenario in which a proud senior engineer or six who were fearful for their jobs rigged the software so that the company leadership wouldn’t know that they couldn’t hit their US targets.

        It’s actually hard to believe that senior management would authorize this, as getting caught would be inevitable and they would have to own the problem.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That’s reasonable. I could see it possibly happening. In the F150 SuperCrew vs SuperCab crash test discrepancy, there was one guy that made that call. Anyone above him wouldn’t have noticed. He doesn’t have that specific job anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If my theory is correct, then it does suggest a corporate culture problem, with staffers unwilling or afraid to communicate with their superiors.

            It’s normal for organizations to shoot the messenger, and very few people are willing to take the bullet. If they were instructed to avoid using urea because it was not in the budget, then that would take a significant option for removing NOx off of the table.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Well it’s a corporate culture problem either way.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      APaGttH,

      Please long story us like that anytime.


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