Earlier this week, it was revealed that Volkswagen had engaged in widespread cheating of emissions tests using special software designed to fool testers. Now VW CEO Martin Winterkorn has stepped down even as he’s maintained he had no idea his company was engaged in any wrongdoing.
“Volkswagen needs a fresh start,” Winterkorn announced on Wednesday. “I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”
Winterkorn also said that he was “shocked by the events of the past few days” and was “stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible” at his company. The New York Times reported earlier on Wednesday that VW had developed software that could detect when a car was undergoing emissions tests and would then reduce its emissions accordingly. Once back out on the road, however, the software would let the car emit significantly greater quantities of nitrogen oxide into the environment than what is legally allowed.
VW’s board has asked prosecutors to open up a criminal investigation into this matter and is planning to consider who should succeed Winterkorn as CEO during a meeting this Friday.