Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned: his position had become untenable when the worldwide software scandal broke. The German car manufacturer had consistently deceived laboratory tests through software that manipulated the car's emissions.
"For the good of the company"
Volkswagen equipped at least 11 million diesel-fueled cars worldwide with special software that enabled the company to cheat with its emissions. Laboratory tests would consistently show lower levels of emissions than one would be able to detect during every-day use. The lab results placed the German cars into a better category.
In an attempt to save his own position, Winterkorn stated this was all done without his knowledge, but in the end he did decide to resign "for the good of the company." Volkswagen will most likely face a huge fine in the United States, probably worth several billion dollars, while consumer-based "class action" suits may also follow as disgruntled customers will claim they bought a car based on false data. All across the world, investigations have also been launched into the matter.
One other consequence of the scandal is that people have now started talking about how emissions are being measured, because there is a huge performance difference between laboratory tests and actual traffic. A similar discussion will also most likely surface in countries like Belgium, where car-related taxation is currently based on car emissions.
It is unclear who will succeed Winterkorn as CEO of Volkswagen: that decision will probably come on Friday.