Volkswagen Group has announced that CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned, effective immediately.
The announcement comes just days after the news broke that the company had used software to fool emissions measuring equipment both in the United States and abroad.
In a statement released after an emergency meeting of VW's shareholders, Winterkorn said, "I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group." The 68-year-old industry veteran added that he was not aware of any personal wrongdoing, but that his exit was necessary for the company to make a "fresh start."
For its deceptive tactics, VW faces as much as $18 billion in penalties in the U.S. alone, and recent days have seen its stock plunge by about one third.
In a separate announcement, VW's overarching Executive Committee which represents the shareholders said "Professor Dr. Winterkorn had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data," that it "is expecting further personnel consequences in the next days," and that any persons responsible "will be subject to the full consequences."
Whether the "full consequences" outlined in the statement could mean individual criminal charges is unclear, though such an outcome is a distinct possibility.
At this time, a new successor has not been announced, though there is speculation that Porsche CEO Martin Mueller could step in to the top job. No time frame regarding a leadership decision was disclosed, though an announcement could be made as early as this Friday.
For a complete breakdown of the scandal and the affected vehicles, head to Green Car Reports.