Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced his resignation on Wednesday as the company deals with the fallout over revelations that it falsified diesel emissions data. “Volkswagen needs a fresh start,” Winterkorn said in a statement.
“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 said in a statement published on the German automaker’s website.
“I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part,” he added.
Winterkorn said that he was stunned to have learned that misconduct on such a scale was possible at Volkswagen and that he was “shocked” by the events of the last few days.
“Volkswagen needs a fresh start, also in terms of personnel,” he said. “I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.”
No replacement for the post of CEO was immediately announced.
US authorities are planning criminal investigations after discovering that Volkswagen programmed computers in its cars to detect when they were being tested and alter the running of their diesel engines to conceal the true level of emissions.
Volkswagen shares, which lost over a third of their value on Monday and Tuesday, jumped following Winterkorn’s announcement.
Senior members of Volkswagen’s supervisory board said in a separate statement they expected further heads to roll in the coming days as an internal investigation seeks to identify who was responsible for what has turned into the biggest scandal in Volkswagen’s 78-year history.
Volkswagen said on Tuesday it was setting aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to help cover the costs of the crisis, though analysts doubt that will be enough.