Update Sept. 25, 2015: In a press release issued today, Volkswagen Group has confirmed that Matthias Müller has been appointed to the position of CEO.
“Matthias Müller is a person of great strategic, entrepreneurial and social competence,” stated Berthold Huber, interim Chairman of the SUpervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, in the release. “He knows the Group and its brands well and can immediately engage in his new task with full energy. We expressly value his critical and constructive approach.”
With the recently announced discovery of defeat devices altering the emissions levels of certain Volkswagen vehicles, the German auto company has been thrown into some intense turmoil over the past few days.
In a statement Sept. 23, Volkswagen’s CEO, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, announced that he would be stepping down from his position in the wake of the scandal, and Reuters reports that Matthias Müller, current CEO of Porsche, will likely be taking over the position.
“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,” Winterkorn stated. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”
As many as 11 million vehicles have the software installed worldwide, with up to 500,000 being recalled in the United States alone, as the New York Times reported Sept. 22. Volkswagen could be facing fines of up to $18 billion, and the company’s stock prices have already plummeted, losing as much as 50 percent of its value.
Reuters reported in an article today that sources close to the matter stated that Müller “is backed by a majority on VW’s 20-member supervisory board, which will endorse him as new CEO at a meeting on Friday.”
Müller has worked within Volkswagen for nearly 40 years, and it’s believed that his experience and success at Porsche set him up to be able to navigate one of the largest scandals to hit a major manufacturer in recent times. As the environmental impact of the high emissions levels is being assessed, Müller’s history of overseeing green projects, such as the Mission-E Concept and 918 Spyder, will undoubtedly serve the company’s image well.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time Müller has eyed the position of CEO at Volkswagen – a March 24 article from Autoblog tells that Müller was named as a possible successor to the position after Winterkorn’s retirement. This wasn’t planned to occur for at least a few more years – Winterkorn’s contract was set to expire at the end of 2016, though it was thought he might have extended that date to 2018.
If you’ve recently purchased a diesel vehicle from Volkswagen or Audi, be sure to check and see if yours is one of the cars impacted by this recall; the EPA lists the following diesel vehicles as having the defeat device software installed:
Jetta (MY 2009 – 2015)
Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009-2014)
Beetle (MY 2012 – 2015)
Beetle Convertible (MY 2012-2015)
Audi A3 (MY 2010 – 2015)
Golf (MY 2010 – 2015)
Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015)
Passat (MY 2012-2015)
Stay with us for more updates from the automotive industry as they emerge.
(Source: Porsche, Volkswagen, Reuters, Autoblog, The New York Times, EPA)