Volkswagen CEO issues video apology for emissions cheating scandal

September 22, 2015, 5:35 PM UTC
(FILE) Volkswagen CEO Martin Wintekorn
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 13, 2014: In this file photo Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn attends the company's annual press conference on March 13, 2014 in Wolfsburg, Germany. Winterkorn announced on September 22, 2015 that he will not step down following the diesel emissions scandal that Volkswagen has admitted could affect up to 11 million VW cars. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Photograph by Sean Gallup — Getty Images

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn issued a video apology Tuesday while the car company comes under fire for an emissions testing scandal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publicly claimed Friday that the company used software to help diesel-powered vehicles cheat emissions tests.

In the statement, Winterkorn says the deception violates “everything that Volkswagen stands for.” He said that Volkswagen would cooperate with authorities and begin a comprehensive internal investigation. “I apologize sincerely to our customers and the regulatory agencies and the public for the misbehavior,” Winterkorn said in German.


Volkswagen in is full-blown crisis-control in the wake of the EPA’s criticism. Tuesday morning, the company admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with the emissions-cheating software. Already, the U.S. EPA has said it will ask Volkswagen to recall the incriminated 500,000 vehicles from the U.S. market.

Winterkorn is scheduled to meet with the company’s board to discuss renewing his contract–a poorly-timed meeting that many expect will result in a new executive search.

Here’s a full English translation of his statement:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the irregularities with diesel engines from our corporation oppose everything that Volkswagen stands for. I also currently don’t have the answers to all the questions. But we are in the process to unsparingly reveal the background.
For that purpose, we are currently putting everything on the table – as fast, thoroughly and transparent as possible. And we are continuing to closely cooperating with government and regulatory authories. The speedly and comprehensive investigation has the highest priority. This is our obligation towards our customers, our employees and the public. And to say it bluntly this can never occurr again.

Ladies and Gentlement, many millions of people around the world trust our brands, our cars and our technologies. I am endlessly sorry that we disappointed this trust.
I apologize sincerely to our customers and the regulatory agencies and the public for the misbehavior. Please believe me that we will do everything to undo the damage that was done. And we will do everything to win back your trust step by step.

In our corporation, more than 600,000 people work to build the best cars for our customers. And talking directly to our employees, I am saying, I know how much effort and great, true sincerity you do your jobs day in and day out. It is clear to me that now much will be questioned now. I understand that.

But it would be false, if because of the terrible mistakes of a few, the hard and honest work of 600,000 people is put under a general mistrust. Our team does not deserve that.
That’s why we ask – I ask – for your trust in our way forward. We will uncover this.
We are working intensively in necessary technical solutions and we will do everything to undo damages done to our customers and employees.

I give you my word.

We will proceed with the highest possible openness and transparency.