Volkswagen has chosen Porsche's Matthias Muller as the company's new CEO, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Muller, 62, will reportedly replace Martin Winterkorn, who stepped down Wednesday as VW chief after a global emissions scandal devastated the company and cut the market value of the world's biggest car company by nearly a third.
Winterkorn is leaving Volkswagen with a severance package worth more than $65 million. Bloomberg News reports that Winterkorn amassed a $32 million pension before stepping down Wednesday, and he may reap millions more in payoff depending on how his exit is classified by the board. The Wall Street Journal estimates the total package could exceed $65 million.
Winterkorn, VW's top boss since 2007 and architect of Volkswagen's American growth strategy that brought VW to Chattanooga, came 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.
Winterkorn was the first VW employee to resign after the scandal came to light last Friday. Up to 11 million vehicles may have been affected.
Winterkorn was the second-highest paid CEO in Germany last year, receiving more than 15 million euros in compensation, Bloomberg said. 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."
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 said before departing the company.
Muller is a management board member of Porsche SE and is close to the Piech-Porsche family that controls Volkswagen through the holding company. He also spent many years at Audi.
"He is a good choice even though he may be seen as a transitionary CEO until another internal candidate such as VW brand CEO Herbert Diess has earned their stripes," Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore ISI investment banking advisory firm, told Reuters news service.