Volkswagen Group chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn just escaped a narrow defeat during the first part of the year when confronted by the long standing chairman Ferdinand Piech.
But just as the waters calmed, the diesel scandal has engulfed the automaker and Winterkorn will need to explain how this happened in front of the executive committee of the automaker’s supervisory board on Wednesday. A crucial issue – how much the CEO knew about the shameful strategy devised to cheat regulators and consumers about the real emissions of diesel engines used by eleven million autos across the globe – says a source that has knowledge of the matter. The 68-year-old CEO might see his survival in balance when trying to convince some critical power players, such as Wolfgang Porsche, Bernd Osterloh and Stephan Weil. The first is the leader of the family that has control over much of VW’s voting shares and a previous supporter in the skirmish with patriarch Piech. The second is the company’s influential labor official and the third is the prime minister ofLower Saxony, which has one of a kind blocking rights at the company.
According to one person familiar with the proceeds, the power players have already met Tuesday evening to seek a way out of the massive crisis and discussions could continue on Friday as the entire 20-person board, with oversight powers, would meet. Pressure is massive after US regulators first announcing diesel-powered cars rigged the emissions tests in the country and then the company – through Winterkorn – admitted it had concealed the “defeat device”. Now, a total of 11 million cars worldwide have been declared to be affected.