As the emissions cheating scandal involving Volkswagen erupted, the car company’s CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned from his position.
The Washington Post reports that the scandal leaves Volkswagen at risk for billions of dollars in fines and potential criminal charges. Over 11 million cars are affected by the scandal, which allows vehicles to pass emissions tests, even when cars were emitting nitrogen oxide at 40 times the standards allowed by U.S. standards.
Winterkorn took responsibility for the issue, but denied any personal wrongdoing. In a statement, the former CEO said,”I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group,”
No immediate replacement for Winterkorn has been named, however Volkswagen plans to discuss the issue in a meeting Friday. A executive committee at Volkswagen states that they do no believe Winterkorn was involved with the software manipulation.
Volkswagen could potentially face fines of up to $18 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency alone. There is a separate investigation ongoing from the Department of Justice. European officials are also launching investigations. Volkswagen has allocated $7 billion to fix the issue and to fix their reputation with consumers.
Winterkorn was awaiting a contract extension, which would have sustained the former CEO until his retirement. Before becoming CEO, Winterkorn served as Volkswagen’s research and development chief.