VW diesel scandal: German minister says Winterkorn not to blame image

According to German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the decisions that made VW cheat and get involved in a massive diesel-emissions related scandal were taken before Martin Winterkorn was named as chief executive officer.

Winterkorn decided to hand over his resignation from the position of CEO of the Volkswagen Group in a move to assume responsibility for the company’s rigged emissions tests for diesel-powered cars in the US. But the decisions were taken before he became CEO in 2007, claims the top German minister. “I have great respect for his decision. He is taking responsibility for something that happened when he was not chief executive of Volkswagen but rather at Audi, ” commented the German official. Members of the supervisory board – form the top committee – also said Winterkorn had no knowledge of the software – dubbed a “defeat device” – that was used to rig US diesel emissions tests. Lower Saxony President Stephan Weil, a member, commented for a German TV station in support of Winterkorn’s pledge he was innocent. “Other members also believed him,” Weil told ARD.

Winterkorn vacated the top position on Wednesday and declared in a statement he was assuming responsibility on behalf of the company “even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.” Reports are now pouring in as the 20-member supervisory board will name his successor in a meeting Friday and also name people responsible for the massive scandal. Winterkorn, 68, lead a company owning 12 brands – such as Audi, Bentley or Volkswagen – to the top of the worldwide sales (during the first six months of the year).

Via Automotive News Europe