Martin Winterkorn Resigns As Volkswagen CEO Amid Emission Scandal

Sep 24, 2015 10:24 AM EDT | John Nassivera

Volkswagen's Martin Winterkorn resigned as CEO Wednesday in an attempt to take responsibility for the recent emissions cheating scandal that has caused a great deal of trouble for the automaker.

The scandal started last Friday when U.S. regulators revealed that the German company purposely equipped some 500,000 diesel-powered cars with software designed to trick emissions tests by emitting lower levels of harmful gases in official tests than on the roads, according to CNNMoney.

"As C.E.O., I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines," Winkerkorn, 68, said in a statement. However, he continued to say that he did not personally commit any misconduct, The New York Times reported.

"I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part," he said.

The announcement follows one day after the Volkswagen admitted that the software it installed affects 11 million vehicles worldwide, according to USA Today. The cars that were able to fool the emission tests are emitting pollutants up to 40 times acceptable standards. Tuesday also marked the second time in four days that Winterkorn apologized for the misconduct, accepting responsibility so Volkswagen could have a "fresh start."

"The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis," he said.

The U.S. Justice Department has since opened a criminal probe into Volkswagen's manipulation of the cars' software, and the Environmental Protection Agency has started its own investigation into the matter.

In addition to having its reputation as a manufacturing and export giant damaged, Volkswagen suffered a crash in in its stock price, which led to huge losses for Qatar and other investors, CNNMoney reported.

Volkswagen has since started to recall the vehicles while stopping sales of some cars in the U.S., though whether or not cars will be recalled in other markets has yet to be revealed.

The automaker will also spend $7.3 billion on recalls and other moves to limit the damage, but the company may have to pay much more as it faces civil and possible criminal fines in the U.S. that are expected to total billions of dollars. 

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