Winterkorn claims he had no direct involvement in the decision-making process behind the emissions cheating software
19 January 2017

Former Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn has denied early knowledge of the dieselgate emissions manipulation scandal in a parliamentary enquiry into his role in the dieselgate scandal.

The scandal has so far cost the German car maker over 18 billion euros in fines and recall costs, as well as seen five former executives charged by the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Speaking before a parliament committee consisting of members from all of Germany’s major political parties, Winterkorn made a long-awaited statement on Volkswagen’s decision to manipulate emission tests of various diesel models.

In an opening declaration, Winterkorn took accountability for the scandal, saying, “As CEO, I bear responsibility for what has happened.”

However, the 69-year-old German denied any direct involvement in the decision-making processes that led to Volkswagen employing specially developed software used to detect when diesel models were running on test rigs and programmed to subsequently alter their engine performance to reduce both CO2 and NOx emissions well below that of real world driving levels.

"Everyone who knows me knows my love for detail, the perfect workmanship, we have invested countless hours in the search for the best solution,” said Winterkorn, who referred to his decision to resign as CEO of Volkswagen on 23 September 2015, as “the hardest of my life."

In another round of questions posed by various German politicians, Winterkorn strenuously rebuffed suggestions he had early knowledge of Volkswagen’s efforts to manipulate emission results and pending legal action by the US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying, “This was not the case”.

The denial of early knowledge of legal action by the EPA is crucial as it could exonerate Winterkorn on claims he used the dieselgate scandal to manipulate Volkswagen’s share price by not disclosing the facts to relevant authorities or the German parliament.

When asked to confirm exactly when he was made aware of the emission manipulation activities being run by Volkswagen, Winterkorn refused to provide a direct answer, saying details of his knowledge of the matter cannot be disclosed due to a pending investigation by the public prosecutor of Braunschweig in Germany

With the spectre of the Braunschweig public prosecutor investigation hanging over him, Winterkorn also declined to nominate the signals he overlooked, suggesting Volkswagen was running illegal software in its diesel models.

The former Volkswagen chairman did, however, single out Volkswagen’s strategy committee as one weak link in a process that led to diesel emission manipulation to reduce both CO2 and NOx levels. “Our strategy committee should have reported it impossible. That did not happen.”

Clearly well prepared for the two hour parliament hearing, most notably from members of Germany’s Green Party, Winterkorn was very specific on questions relating to his communication with German politicians over the matter, saying he “did not speak to politicians about NOx”, but informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “problems in the USA” on 21 September 2015.

Asked how many Volkswagen employees were involved in the emission manipulation fraud, Winterkorn said: “I do not think there were two or three, there were more, but how many, I do not know.”

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

Join the debate

Comments
15

19 January 2017
And, again, why is Herr Piech's name never mentioned?


19 January 2017
bomb wrote:

And, again, why is Herr Piech's name never mentioned?

I find it hard to believe that the CEO was unaware of how the engineers had resolved the issues that VW clearly had in meeting emissions legislation in all markets. That it impacted their biggest selling power plant and extended into the V6 diesel makes it even more unlikely, however Winterkorn's predecessor must have been aware and should be held accountable.

20 January 2017
Herr Piech ALWAYS wins even when you think he has lost

19 January 2017
Or 'inquiry'........

19 January 2017
Yawn.

Sorry, I just thought I'd write that before Winston does.

19 January 2017
European parliamentarians lack the will to prosecute these loaded thugs. The man who describes himself as a man of detail. How did he miss such huge discrepancies? Give him over to the Americans. Bet he will plead guilty before his plane lands at the JFK.

19 January 2017
fadyady wrote:

European parliamentarians lack the will to prosecute these loaded thugs. The man who describes himself as a man of detail. How did he miss such huge discrepancies? Give him over to the Americans. Bet he will plead guilty before his plane lands at the JFK.

You're a nasty vindictive little man. He hasn't done anything to consumers. The effects of the cheating on the consumer are nil! There is no claim and no grievance so why wish him any ill? Genuinely, I don't understand your attitude here.


19 January 2017
Yawn

20 January 2017
fadyady wrote:

Yawn

That all you've got? No rationale for your hateful comment? A 4 year old VW pisses you off that much? You're that bitter?


20 January 2017
VW Group intentionally cheated on government emissions tests and grossly exceeded legal toxin levels in the exhaust of 11 million cars, resulting in unhealthy air in cities where hundreds of millions of people live and breathe. Thousands of deaths were caused. Do Winterkorn and his cronies show any remorse for that? No.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals