Volkswagen picks company veteran to tackle emissions crisis

Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:06pm EDT
 
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By Andreas Cremer

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE named company veteran Matthias Mueller as its chief executive on Friday as the German carmaker struggles to get to grips with a crisis over rigged diesel emission tests that its chairman called "a moral and political disaster."

After a marathon board meeting at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, the world's biggest automaker said Mueller, the 62-year-old head of its Porsche sports car division, would replace Martin Winterkorn, who resigned as CEO on Wednesday.

As Mueller took the helm, however, Germany's transport minister announced the carmaker had manipulated test results for about 2.8 million vehicles in the country, nearly six times as many as it has admitted to falsifying in the United States, pointing to cheating on a bigger scale than previously thought.

Volkswagen, for generations a model of German engineering prowess, is under huge pressure to take decisive action over the biggest business-related scandal in its 78-year history.

"Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do all it can to develop and implement the strictest compliance and governance standards in the whole industry," Mueller said in a statement.

The company said it would appoint a U.S. law firm to conduct a full investigation, suspend an unspecified number of staff and adopt a more decentralized structure with a slimmed down management board.

But the scandal keeps growing. German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Thursday Volkswagen had also cheated tests in Europe, where its sales are much higher than in the United States. On Friday Dobrindt put the number of affected vehicles in Germany at 2.8 million.

Regulators and prosecutors across the world are investigating the scandal, while customers and investors are launching lawsuits.   Continued...

 
The logo of German carmaker Volkswagen is seen on the front grill of a Passat car in Willmette, Illinois, September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young