Volkswagen’s top US executive resigns as US emissions scandal continues

Michael Horn

Volkswagen AG’s top US executive is resigning from their post as the company continues to fight with US regulators over how to fix 580,000 diesel vehicles that cheated on US emissions testing.

Michael Horn, who has been president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America since 2014, is leaving by mutual agreement “to pursue other opportunities effective immediately,” VW said.

Hinrich J. Woebcken, a former BMW executive, will replace the departing CEO on an interim basis.

In January, VW named Woebcken as head of VW’s North American region, effective April 1.

VW has been attempting to negotiate with California, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency on possible fixes or buybacks for the diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

A federal judge has set a March 24 deadline for the company to find a suitable fix.

Volkswagen faces an ongoing Justice Department criminal investigation. The Justice Department sued VW in January seeking up to $46 billion for violating stringent environmental regulations.

VW brand US sales are down 14% this year after falling 5% last year. The company is still facing a stop in all diesel vehicle sales.

During the initial response to the crisis, Horn was VW’s public face in the United States, apologizing days after the scandal became public. He also testified before Congress.

“Let’s be clear about this: our company was dishonest – with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board – and with all of you. And in my German words: We totally screwed up. We must fix those cars,” Horn said on Sept. 21.