Matthias Muller, who has headed sports car maker Porsche for the last five years, has been appointed the new CEO of the Volkswagen Group.
At his first press conference as Volkswagen CEO, Muller said (according to a translation provided by The Guardian): “Personally I will do all I can to win back the trust of our customers, our colleagues, our partners, our investors and the public at large.
We accept our responsibilities.
It is crucial that something like this never happens again at Volkswagen. Therefore we will introduce even stricter governance and compliance standards. I insist on that.”
Like his predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, Muller is a long time servant of the Volkswagen Group. After an internship with Audi in the late 1970s, Muller joined the luxury car maker full time in 1984.
By the end of the 1990s, he progressed to be in charge of product management at Audi, Seat and Lamborghini. After former CEO Martin Winterkorn ascended to the throne, he became head of product management for entire Volkswagen Group in 2007.
In 2010, Muller was appointed CEO of Porsche, a role he’ll keep until the sports car maker finds a new person to lead it.
Above: Muller at the launch of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS in China.
In a notice announcing his appointment, Volkswagen stated: “He is what the company needs now. Matthias Muller is exactly the right man at the right time to make a fresh start and to drive clarification of the current crisis that has hit our company with decisiveness and to draw the right conclusions. We expressly value his critical and constructive approach.”
On Wednesday (EU time), Martin Winterkorn who was Volkswagen CEO since 2007, stepped down, accepting responsibility for, but admitting no prior knowledge of, the emissions testing defeat device that has been installed on 11 million Volkswagen Group vehicles with EA189 turbo-diesel engines.
Last Friday (US time), Volkswagen admitted its wrongdoing to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
The EPA and CARB were tipped off to the existence of the defeat device when researchers at West Virginia University discovered a massive discrepancy between the lab results and real world figures for two turbo-diesel Volkswagen vehicles, a Passat and a Jetta.
Deputy chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, Berthold Huber, added, “The test manipulations are a moral and political disaster for Volkswagen. The unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development shocked Volkswagen just as much as it shocked the public. We can only apologise and ask our customers, the public, the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends.”
Volkswagen confirmed that it had engaged the services of an American law firm to investigate and “full clarify” the situation. The firm, reported to be Kirkland & Ellis, who defended BP after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, will likely also help Volkswagen negotiate settlements with governments and consumers.