One of Germany’s leading auto manufacturers, Volkswagen, took a huge blow after admitting to programming 11 million cars worldwide with technology that would allow vehicles to pass emission tests. The company helped vehicles by lowering the amount of harmful emissions being released only while being tested. This technology was found in several of the vehicle models with diesel engines. Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn announced on Wednesday, a week after the scandal broke out, that he would be resigning from the CEO position.
“As C.E.O. I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines,” said 68-year-old Winterkorn. Winterkorn has held this position since 2007 and even though he claims to have no knowledge of the modifications made, he still chose to step down from the position.
What Volkswagen did is said to be shockingly more important than one might think. This was not only a matter of sneaking by a few emissions tests; this was a violation of trust and reputation among the global market. Klaus Breitenbach, an automotive analyst at Baader Bank, says it this way: “Now, it looks like it’s becoming a very global issue. It really will be bad for the reputation of the company for a couple of years, it will take time to rebuild the trust of the customers.”
Several vehicle models were affected by this crisis including the VW Jetta, Golf and Beatle from 2009-2014, the VW Passat from 2014-15, and the VW Audi A3 from 2009-2015. With this, VW has to recall the listed vehicles that were affected and halt the sales of some cars, specifically within the U.S.
Volkswagen, the owner of several other brands of vehicles such as Audi and Porsche, became the world’s largest automaker by car sales earlier this year when they overtook Toyota. The company has set aside over $7 billion to cover the costs of recalls and other financial damages that are to come. With this kind of loss, Volkswagen’s profit forecast for this year is completely demolished.
This is not the end of the crisis for U.S. customers and certainly not the end for Volkswagen. An article from BBC says, “Legal action from consumers and shareholders may follow, and there is speculation that the US Justice Department will launch a criminal probe.” What does this mean for VW, and will the German Automaker survive this dupe? Only time will tell.