Less than a week after the emissions scandal erupted in the United States and spread around the world, Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn has resigned.
“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,” Winterkorn said in a statement.
“Volkswagen needs a fresh start. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.”
Winterkorn had been CEO of the group since 2007 and had turned VW into an automotive powerhouse.
The Volkswagen board will consider successors at its meeting on Friday.
The new CEO will have to rebuild the company’s reputation and sort out the technical difficulties of fixing the 11 million vehicles the company has on the road now equipped with devices designed to bypass emissions tests. He will also have to deal with fines and litigation and the possibility of criminal charges against VW executives.
“We are aware that overcoming this crisis of trust will be a long-term challenge that will require a lot of determination and stamina,” Wolfgang Porsche, the head of the family that controls 50.7 percent of VW’s voting shares, told Bloomberg.