For the executive, the switch was a symbol of his commitment to reversing years of underperformance in the world’s most competitive auto market.
“I felt ill”, Thomas said.
Yet even as Winterkorn spoke, the crisis that would be his undoing was starting to surface.
The move – which could affect 180,000 cars that are not yet sold or registered – comes after VW admitted cheating on emissions tests in the US. The gamble seemed to pay off – until last week.
Li, who lives in Beijing, said: “It is a shame for Volkswagen“.
Italian prosecutors have opened a preliminary probe, a judicial source said, and the European Commission urged all member states on Thursday to investigate how many cars use the so-called “defeat devices” employed by Volkswagen to rig tests.
The German group had just overtaken the Japanese carmaker Toyota as the world’s top vehicle maker.
Alongside Mueller’s appointment, the supervisory board also approved changes to the management structure – aimed, the company said, at scaling back complexity and strengthening brands and regions.
“This was blatantly unethical, and they knew it was unethical”, says Sean Hannah, executive director of the Center for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University School of Business.
Growth was brisk in 2011 and 2012.
The head of VW’s employee council, Bernd Osterloh, said that Volkswagen “needs a new beginning” with a “different company culture”. The USA adopted much stricter rules (known as “Tier 2, Bin 5”) on emissions of virtually every component of diesel exhaust. VW later acknowledged that similar software exists in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
German said VW could have continued in the deceit for the foreseeable future if no one had thought to test the cars emissions on real roads. “Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group”, Winterkorn said in a statement.
Soon, Volkswagen’s diesels were no longer a curiosity on American roads.
There was no response from the EPA either, but keen-eyed German noticed an EPA press release in which VW agreed to recall nearly 500,000 vehicles in December 2014 to reinstall software, which it said would solve the higher-than-expected emissions.
“Volkswagen has committed a bait and switch”, said Gretchen Cappio, a Partner at Keller Rohrback in Seattle who is representing Bahr and about three dozen other Volkswagen customers across the country. That turned out to be too good to be true.
The scandal has wiped more than €24bn ($26.8bn) off VW’s market value.
The VWs nitrogen oxide emissions – which creates smog and has been linked to increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses – still exceeded the USA standards by up to 35 times.
Switzerland also temporarily suspended the sale of new Volkswagen diesel-engine models on Friday.
That led former CEO Winterkorn to enact a number of cost-cutting steps over the past year.
New VW cars with “euro 6” engines are also immune from the ban, as they contain an updated emissions system.
In 2012, the WHO’s specialist cancer research agency reclassified diesel engine fumes as carcinogenic, saying they can cause lung cancer and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas.
VW workers will not accept new attacks on their jobs and incomes without a fight.
The company’s CEO has resigned, and it has set aside $7.3 billion in anticipation of heavy government penalties that might exceed that by more than 100%. So all the other pollutant levels are, in fact, lower.