ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
FILE - In a Tuesday, May 5, 2015 file photo, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn addresses the shareholders during the annual shareholder meeting of the car manufacturer Volkswagen in Hannover, Germany. Winterkorn apologized Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, after the Environmental Protection Agency said the German automaker skirted clean air rules by rigging emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars. "I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public," Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn said in a statement. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
polls here 3353

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down today, days after admitting that the world's top-selling carmaker had rigged diesel emissions to pass U.S. tests during his tenure.

In a statement, Winterkorn took responsibility for the "irregularities" found in diesel engines but said he was "not aware of any wrongdoing on my part."

"Volkswagen needs a fresh start — also in terms of personnel," he said. "I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation."

Winterkorn's statement followed a crisis meeting of the Volkswagen supervisory board's executive committee. Its acting chairman, Berthold Huber, told reporters moments later that company directors are "resolved to embark with determination on a credible new beginning."

There was no immediate decision on a new CEO. Huber said that will be discussed only at a board meeting on Friday.

Winterkorn said VW must continue providing "clarification and transparency."

"This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis," he added.

some text
A window sticker is seen on a diesel Passat at the Al Johnson Volkswagen Volvo dealership on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Dalton, Ga.
some text
Volkswagen Passats at a dealership

VW shares were up 8.7 percent at 121 euros following his resignation.

The share price still has a long way to go to recoup the nearly 25 billion euros (around $28 billion) wiped off its market value in the first two days of trading after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that VW is violating the Clean Air Act.

Winterkorn, VW's boss since 2007, had come under intense pressure since the disclosure that stealth software makes VW's 2009-2015 model cars powered by 2.0-liter diesel engines run cleaner during emissions tests than in actual driving.

The EPA accused VW of installing the "defeat device" in 482,000 cars sold in the U.S. VW then acknowledged that similar software exists in 11 million diesel cars worldwide.

Huber said that "Mr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emission values" and praised the departing CEO's "readiness to take responsibility in this difficult situation for Volkswagen."

Before the scandal broke, Winterkorn, 68, had been expecting to get a two-year contract extension, through 2018, at Friday's board meeting.

His resignation came only a day after he issued a video message asking staff and the public "for your trust on our way forward."

The EPA said Volkswagen AG could face fines of as much as $18 billion. Other governments from Europe to South Korea have begun their own investigations, and law firms have already filed class-action suits on behalf of customers.

VW directors renewed pledges of a thorough investigation after Winterkorn's resignation.

"We will clear up these events with all the possibilities we have inside the company and ensure that those involved are punished severely," said Stephan Weil, the governor of Lower Saxony state, which holds a 20 percent stake in Volkswagen.

Weil added that the company itself would file a criminal complaint, "because we have the impression that criminally relevant actions may have played a role here."

The prosecutors' office in Braunschweig, near VW's Wolfsburg headquarters, said earlier Wednesday that they are collecting information and considering opening an investigation against employees of VW who might be responsible.

Prosecutors said they already received "several" criminal complaints. Anyone can file a criminal complaint in Germany, and prosecutors must decide whether to act on them.

Read more about Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal

Volkswagen Group of America head to testify before Congress

Volkswagen brand sales trail auto market

VW sales in U.S. rise slightly despite scandal

U.S. states issue subpoena in Volkswagen investigation

VW: Nothing has changed inside Volkswagen's only U.S. assembly plant

Cooper: VW should take a page from Tylenol

VW cuts shift at German plant, freezes some hiring

VW expansion, production on track in Chattanooga despite diesel scandal, state officials say

Volkswagen appoints new chief of North American operations

VW to refit diesel vehicles

Gov. Haslam worried about VW scandal's effect on sales, jobs at Chattanooga plant

Volkswagen faces major legal trouble in emissions scandal

VW faces daunting challenges in fixing emissions cheating

VW was reportedly warned about illegal emissions tricks year ago

German prosecutors open investigation into ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn

Volkswagen to reorganize North American operations

Tennessee judge sues VW in emissions scandal

Tennessee part of multi-state investigation into Volkswagen

EPA changing emissions tests after being duped by VW for seven years

Volkswagen sued by Chattanooga area residents

Reports: Volkswagen to pick Porsche's Matthias Muller as new CEO

Ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn may get $60 million severance package

More resignations expected at Volkswagen

VW workers 'trying to make light of situation, but we just don't know'

VW faces growing number of class action lawsuits

Why most VW drivers may not let their cars be recalled

Volkswagen CEO steps down, takes responsibility for scandal

German official cautions against talking down VW

Biggest VW dealer says 'Volkswagen brand is at risk'

Six big questions about Volkswagen's emissions crisis

Tarnished: State Senate, U.S. House panels plan hearings on VW's diesel deception

VW officials assure Berke that Chattanooga SUV is 'critical' to their market strategy

Emissions testers approving VW vehicles that pass inspection until directed to do otherwise

Lawmakers move quickly to grill VW over diesel deception

Volkswagen CEO says he is 'endlessly sorry' for emissions deception as VW issues profit warning

Will pollution scandal ruin Volkswagen in the United States?

Volkswagen says 11 million vehicles worldwide affected by pollution scandal

Volkswagen's reputation erodes as diesel emissions scandal widens

Sohn: What was Volkswagen thinking?

Volkswagen

Cooper: VW brand on the line

VW unveils new Passat design for 2016

VW rocked by emissions scandal as prosecutors come calling

For 7 years, VW software thwarted pollution regulations

VW scandal has TN officials fuming after giving millions in incentives

Volkswagen tells dealers to stop selling 2015 diesel cars

Sohn: VW's alleged emissions 'defeat device' disheartening

VW could be fined $18 billion for cheating on emission rules

VW stock crashes after admitting it rigged U.S. emission tests

EPA: VW intentionally violates clean air standards

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT