Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn stepped up his groveling campaign today, saying he's "endlessly sorry" for violating customer trust. Spare us.
My hunch is that Winterkorn and top brass at the German automaker is endlessly sorry the company got caught installing "defeat devices" in 11M cars sold worldwide to skirt emissions standards.
That manipulation stands in sharp contrast to Volkswagen's lofty environmental goals. On its website, Volkswagen touts its "Think Blue. Engineering." Approach to manufacturing.
A Volkswagen is built in "such a way that it can be manufactured, driven and one day recycled in a way which protects the environment," the company said. "As a result, environmental experts are involved from the very start of the initial design operations. They make sure that across its entire life-cycle a new vehicle achieves the best possible values in terms of protecting the climate, concerning resources and protecting health."
The Environmental Protection Agency reported Volkswagen's defeat devices allowed its autos to emit up to 40 times more pollution than allowed under US emission standards, posing a threat to public health.
The emission control test cheating makes a mockery of Volkswagen's self-proclaimed commitment to environmental sustainability. The company's "Think Blue. Engineering." pledge is obviously not worth the paper it's written on.
Winterkorn has been CEO since 2007. He had hoped to extend his contract at the Volkswagen board meeting on Sept. 25. Instead, he should do the honorable thing and step down.
It's going to take years for Volkswagen to re-build trust with car buyers, regulators and the general public. Winterkorn, who apologized "in every way to our customers, to authorities and the whole public for the wrongdoing," is not the person to carry out that reputation rehab.
He should either resign or get fired at the board meeting.
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