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.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced his resignation after an emergency meeting held Wednesday. Five supervisory board members met with Winterkorn on Wednesday ahead of a regularly scheduled meeting Friday.
Winterkorn resigned five days after it was announced that 482,000 Volkswagens in the U.S. had illegal “defeat devices” that allowed them to cheat through emissions tests. It later came out that 11 million cars worldwide had the programming, and the company set aside more than $7 billion to pay for the ongoing scandal.
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 wrongdoing on my part.
Five senior members of Volkswagen’s supervisory board are meeting Wednesday to discuss the future for the automaker after stock prices have plummeted and the company has publicly acknowledged it cheated worldwide emissions tests, the BBC reported.
The smaller Wednesday meeting is ahead of a regularly scheduled full board meeting Friday, where members are expected to discuss the contract extension to 2018 for CEO Martin Winterkorn. According to reports, Winterkorn’s future may be decided before Friday’s meeting.
Winterkorn issued a video statement in German on Tuesday apologizing for the scandal, but stopped short from resigning from the top VW post. The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that Winterkorn would be replaced this week.
After Volkswagen admitted to gaming emissions tests with software containing a “defeat device”, German publication Der Tagesspiegel (via Jalopnik) is reporting that Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will be replaced at the end of the week by Porsche CEO Matthias Müller.
The German outlet — the name of which translates to “The Daily Mirror” — reportedly gained the information from “supervisory circles”.
Volkswagen has not yet confirmed the rumor.
Update 1: Reuters is reporting that a Volkswagen spokesman described the report as “ridiculous.” A spokesman for Porsche said Müller is at a Volkswagen board meeting today in Wolfsburg.
More than $17 billion has been erased Monday from Volkswagen’s value in shareholders’ eyes as the company awaits more fallout from news that the company cheated through emissions tests.
Volkswagen’s stock dropped more than 20 percent Monday after the German automaker announced it would stop sales of its diesel cars on Sunday. New CEO Martin Winterkorn issued a statement Sunday to apologize:
I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.