German businessman Matthias Muller has been named as Volkswagen’s new CEO in the wake of the scandal of rigged emissions tests in diesel cars.
Matthias Muller succeeds Martin Winterkorn who resigned on September 23.
VW admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.
Some VW cars being sold in the US had devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results.
Matthias Muller, who has been Porsche AG CEO since 2010, said restoring VW’s reputation was his top 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.”
He also announced sweeping changes to the way the world’s largest carmaker was run, including handing greater autonomy to regional divisions.
Matthias Muller, 62, said he would tighten up procedures at the company: “At no point was the safety of our customers in danger. We will now have even stricter compliance. Our objective is that the people continue to use and drive our vehicles with confidence and pleasure. That’s 80 million people driving our cars worldwide.”
The US’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings of the scandal cover 482,000 cars in the US only, including the VW-manufactured Audi A3, and the VW brands Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat.
The automaker has admitted that about 11 million cars worldwide are fitted with the so-called “defeat device” – 2.8 million cars in Germany – and further costly recalls and refits are possible.
Half of VW’s sales in Europe – the company’s biggest market – are for diesel cars.
VW shares plunged around 30% in the days after the scandal broke.
Transport authorities in several countries – including the UK and Germany – have announced investigations in to the scandal.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned after the revelation that the world’s largest automaker manipulated US diesel car emissions tests.
Martin Winterkorn said he was “shocked” by recent events and that Volkswagen needed a “fresh start”.
He added that he was “not not aware of any wrong doing on my part” but was acting in the interest of the company.
VW has already said that it is setting aside €6.5 billion to cover the costs of the scandal.
The world’s biggest carmaker admitted last week that it deceived US regulators in exhaust emissions tests by installing a device to give more positive results.
VW said later that it affected 11 million vehicles worldwide.
“I am clearing the way for a fresh start with my resignation,” Martin Winterkorn said in his statement.
He said he was “stunned” at the scale of the misconduct in the group but that he was confident that VW would overcome this “grave crisis”.
“The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust,” he continued.
In a separate statement, VW’s supervisory board said they would announce Martin Winterkorn’s successor at a board meeting on September 25, adding that it was “expecting further personnel consequences in the next days” as a result of its own investigations.
“The internal group investigations are continuing at a high tempo,” it said.
“All participants in these proceedings that has resulted in unmeasurable harm for Volkswagen will be subject to the full consequences.”
The board also said that it would voluntarily submit a complaint to the state prosecutors.
“In the view of the Executive Committee criminal proceedings may be relevant due to the irregularities,” its statement said.
German public prosecutors have already said they are considering an investigation, with US authorities also said to be planning criminal investigations.
In addition, VW faces fines of up to $18 billion by the regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
VW’s shares have tumbled some 30% since the beginning of the week in response to the scandal.
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