Volkswagen’s CEO is currently in the midst of a massive PR disaster after it was revealed that VW has been deliberately tricking emissions testers so that its diesel cars appeared cleaner than they actually are. Now, Martin Winterkorn has come forward with his best apologetic face on to admit to his company’s wrongdoing.
In a video statement posted to Volkswagen’s media site (which you can also watch above; it’s in German but we’ve provided a full translation for you below), Winterkorn boldly states: "We are guilty."
"The irregularities with our diesel engines go against everything that Volkswagen stands for. Not even I have all the answers to the questions yet, but we are getting to the bottom of this. In the next few hours, everything will be laid bare as quickly and as transparently as possible."
Winterkorn confirmed that VW is working closely with authorities as they figure out exactly what has happened, and whether any laws have been broken. He also tried to focus blame on senior members of staff, saying "it would be wrong for people to question the honest work of 600,000 people because of our big mistake."
The next job for VW is to figure out the best way to move forward now that this deception has come to light, with Winterkorn stressing that his priority is to rebuild the trust of customers. That’s no easy task, but it’s vital if VW is to start to recoup the vast sums of money it has already lost following the debacle.
It has set aside £4.6bn (€6.5bn, $7.2bn) to fix the affected cars, could face a fine of up to £11.7bn (€16.2bn, $18bn), and has seen a fifth of its value wiped out on the stock market, equivalent to £13bn (€18bn, $20bn). This fascinating story is constantly evolving, and the intriguing question is this: how many more manufacturers will be caught out?
Here’s the full statement translated:
Ladies and gentlemen, the irregularities with our diesel engines go against everything that Volkswagen stands for. Not even I have all the answers to the questions yet, but we are getting to the bottom of this.
In the next few hours, everything will be laid bare as quickly and as transparently as possible. That’s why we are working closely with the authorities. A quick and comprehensive explanation is the highest priority. We are guilty. And, to make it clear: manipulating figures will never be allowed at Volkswagen again.
Many millions of people trust our cars and our technologies, and I’m eternally sorry that we’ve broken your trust. I apologise publically for our mistake. Please believe me when I say that we will do everything to make this right. And we will do everything possible to win back your trust, step by step.
More than 600,000 people work in our company to make the best cars for our customers. To our employees, I want to say that I know how sincerely you work for VW day after day. And I’m of course aware that you have many questions. But it would be wrong for people to question the honest work of 600,000 people because of our big mistake. That’s not what our team deserves.
Therefore we and I am asking for your trust on this path. We will explain everything. We are working intensively on the required technical solution, and we will do everything to fix the damage done to our customers and colleagues. I am giving you my word that everything that happens will be made as public as possible