Volkswagen announced Wednesday that its top U.S. executive, Michael Horn, is stepping down, effective immediately. A statement from the company said the decision was reached by mutual agreement. It read:
"Volkswagen Group of America today announced the departure of Michael Horn, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. Through mutual agreement with Volkswagen AG, Horn will be leaving to pursue other opportunities effective immediately. On an interim basis, Hinrich J. Woebcken, who was recently announced as the new Head of the North American Region and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, will assume the role of president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America."
Horn took over at Volkswagen America in 2014. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, Horn was the company's point man in the U.S. as it dealt with last year's huge emissions test cheating scandal. John reports:
"The scandal involves nearly 600,000 cars in the U.S. and 11 million vehicles worldwide that were fitted with devices that allowed them to cheat on emissions tests. Horn publicly apologized at a Volkswagen event in Brooklyn last September, shortly after the cheating was exposed.
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"Horn also took heat for the company before Congress. He told angry lawmakers he believed that a couple of software engineers were responsible for the cheating. Volkswagen has not yet provided a fix for the problem."
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