Volkswagen’s American operation is looking for a new leader.
Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, stepped down effective immediately on March 9.
The company stated that Horn departed in mutual agreement with the company, and will be pursuing other opportunities.
Horn’s duties will be taken over on an interim basis by Hinrich J. Woebcken, who was chosen in January to head Volkswagen’s North American Region and serves as chairman of Volkswagen Group of America.
Horn joined Volkswagen AG in 1990 and had headed their U.S. operations since January, 2014. Previously, he served as head of sales for Europe.
In a statement, the company thanked Horn for his contributions to Volkswagen:
“I want personally to say ‘thank you’ to Michael Horn for the great work he has done for the brand and with the dealers in the United States,” said Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen brand. “During his time in the U.S., Michael Horn built up a strong relationship with our national dealer body and showed exemplary leadership during difficult times for the brand,” he added.
In October, Horn testified before a congressional committee investigating Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. It was there he announced the company would be withdrawing its application for emissions certification for 2016 models powered by 2.0-liter diesel engines.
Volkswagen has yet to reveal a plan to fix the millions of diesel models that left the Volkswagen factory with a built-in “defeat device” designed fool emissions regulators.
In his testimony before Congress, Horn stated that older affected models — possibly numbering more than 300,000 in the U.S. — would not easily be fixed, and would require extensive hardware revisions to bring them into compliance. Without the modifications, the vehicles would suffer from lowered performance and fuel mileage.
Speculation continues to this day as to whether Volkswagen will buy back those older vehicles, rather than spend money on their repair.