The first rumblings of an approaching crisis reached the highest levels of Volkswagen management in May 2014, but how much knowledge then-CEO Martin Winterkorn had of the looming diesel emissions scandal is still debatable.
It’s debatable because Winterkorn should have known about the initial study that raised red flags with environmental regulators — he was presented with a memo detailing the situation — but to this day Volkswagen can’t say if he even read it.
Later, the matter was discussed in the vicinity of Winterkorn … but Volkswagen doesn’t know if his ears picked up the dialogue.
Where do you end up if you’re the former CEO of a company guilty of cheating diesel emissions tests, the fallout of which wipes out billions of dollars of value from said company? Business Insider’s “The 15 biggest career crashes of 2015” list, of course.
That, and Nissan prices the new Sentra, oil is still on a well-lubricated downhill slide, Jeep is now online in India, and more … after the break!
German newspaper Bild Am Sonntag (via Reuters) reported Sunday that engineers within Volkswagen knew more than one year ago that its cars didn’t meet reported fuel consumption and even pulled a model from sale because of the deception.
Volkswagen admitted in October that 800,000 cars sold in Europe didn’t meet advertised fuel economy and that the company would pay more than $2.1 billion for the scandal.
According to Reuters, Volkswagen didn’t comment on the claim that executives knew about the cheating crisis before October, and said that the slow-selling Polo BlueMotion was pulled due to poor sales.
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced Wednesday that he would resign his position as chairman of Audi’s supervisory board following revelations two months ago that those cars may have been illegally polluting, which threw the automaker into a tailspin.
Winterkorn stepped down from his role as chairman from Volkswagen in September after the scandal broke and resigned his position at Porsche Automobil Holding SE, VW’s largest shareholder, in October. Winterkorn may have stepped down from his position at Audi because what took him so long? (Read More…)
On Friday, September 18, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen that its cars violated clean air standards by incorporating a “defeat device” that used engine management controls to cheat emissions tests.
Since the EPA’s letter to VW, and subsequent order to recall nearly 482,000 Volkswagen cars, the scandal has deepened and developed with Volkswagen shedding billions in value in markets worldwide, halting sales of its cars in the U.S. and Canada, shuffling executives to other seats or out the door entirely, and other regulatory agencies jumping in to investigate.
Here’s a roundup of the stories so far.
German prosecutors on Thursday said they focused too quickly on former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and removed a statement from earlier this week that they were investigating the former executive for the scandal that has engulfed the German carmaker.
In a statement by the Lower Saxony prosecutor’s office obtained by Automotive News Europe on Thursday, the office said there must be “concrete facts” before officially investigating Winterkorn. So far, no specific individuals have been named in the office’s investigation.
The stakes are high for whomever may be responsible for the 11 million cars that illegally cheated emissions tests. Volkswagen supervisory board member Olaf Lies told The Local in Germany that “those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software — they acted criminally. They must take personal responsibility.”
A criminal complaint in Germany (that could have been filed by anyone) has prompted an investigation into whether former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn knew the automaker was selling cars with an illegal “defeat device” to fool emissions test, Reuters reported.
Several complaints have been filed with German prosecutors, including one from within Volkswagen, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Winterkorn’s investigation may take months — or even years — as German authorities look into how widespread cheating and lying was at the automaker.
Making official Friday what we’ve heard for a while (Der Tagesspiegel reported on Monday), Porsche CEO Matthias Müller will take the reigns at Volkswagen.
Müller replaces Martin Winterkorn, who resigned after the Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen that 482,000 cars in the U.S. used an illegal “defeat device” to cheat emissions.
In a statement Müller said that restoring trust in the automaker would be his first priority:
My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Porsche CEO Matthias Müller will take over as CEO at Volkswagen following Martin Winterkorn’s resignation Wednesday.
Müller, who is 62 years old, took over as CEO of Porsche in 2010, where he expanded the sports car-maker’s lineup to include more crossover vehicles. Müller is a Volkswagen AG lifer: before becoming CEO of Porsche, Müller was in charge of all Audi and Lamborghini product lines, and had been at Audi since 1977.
On Monday, German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that Müller would replace Winterkorn by the end of this week.
According to the report, Müller will be seen as a compromise CEO who is friendly to rank-and-file VW workers.
Ousted Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn could receive up to $67 million after leaving the automaker on Wednesday, depending on how his exit pay is calculated.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Winterkorn had amassed at least $34 million in his pension by 2014 (was stock included?) and his exit pay would be roughly two years of his
current former $17 million annual compensation.
He’d also be entitled to a company car. There are plenty he could choose from right now.