Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns
Mr Winterkorn has been under pressure to stand down after the carmaker admitted that 11m cars had been fitted with the same software that had enabled it to rig emissions tests in the US.
Commenting on his resignation, which comes just days after his contract had been extended to 2018, Mr Winterkorn said: “I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.
“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 wrong doing on my part.
“Volkswagen needs a fresh start – also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.
“I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life.
“The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis.”
Volkswagen is now facing multiple investigations in the United States, including a criminal probe from the Department of Justice according to reports and $18bn (£12bn) fines. VW has already said that it is setting aside €6.5bn (£4.7bn) to cover the costs of the scandal.
The Executive Committee of Volkswagen AG's Supervisory Board said in a statement that it has “great respect” for Mr Winterkorn's offer to resign his position.
It added: “The Executive Committee notes that Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data. The Executive Committee has tremendous respect for his willingness to nevertheless assume responsibility and, in so doing, to send a strong signal both internally and externally. Dr. Winterkorn has made invaluable contributions to Volkswagen. The company's rise to global company is inextricably linked to his name. The Executive Committee thanks Dr. Winterkorn for towering contributions in the past decades and for his willingness to take responsibility in this criticall phase for the company. This attitude is illustrious.”