The unfolding scandal at Volkswagen continues to chew up executive-level talent.
The latest casualty is Michael Horn, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen of America, who left the company by “mutual agreement.” Horn’s resignation was effective immediately.
Horn’s days had been numbered ever since Volkswagen’s Board of Supervisors went outside the company earlier this year and brought in a former BMW executive to run VW’s operations in North America.
“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,” Volkswagen said in a statement that announced the shakeup.
Horn had been the face of Volkswagen in Washington D.C. since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed it uncovered evidence that the German automaker deliberately cheated on emission tests.
(German prosecutors target 17 in VW diesel scandal. For more, Click Here.)
VW has promised to cooperate with the EPA’s ongoing probe it has also resisted any admission of wrongdoing in the scandal over VW’s cheating on emission test broke into the open last September. Replacing Horn could make it easier for Volkswagen to negotiate a settlement with the EPA. So far, a negotiated settlement has eluded Volkswagen.
In addition, Horn was in charge as VOA’s sales in the United States went into a freefall during the past two years. The drop in sales has been exacerbated by the EPA’s refusal to certify 2016 Volkswagen models with diesel engines because of the cheating scandal.
Volkswagen of America also has been slow to react to a market shift that has seen American move from passenger cars to trucks and utility vehicles.
(VW CEO alerted to diesel problem in early 2014, reports say. Click Here for more.)
Horn, 54, joined Volkswagen in 1990 and assumed the role as president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America in January 2014
Before assuming the VOA post, Horn had served as the Global Head of After Sales at Volkswagen AG. He had held many roles of increasing responsibility within the brand over his tenure, including head of Volkswagen sales North West Europe, head of sales and marketing luxury class vehicles, and head of sales for Europe.
“I want personally to say ‘thank you’ to Michael Horn for the great work he has done for the brand and with the dealers in the United States,” said Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen brand.
(U.S. auto sales surge – but VW takes another tumble. Click Here for February’s results.)
“During his time in the U.S., Michael Horn built up a strong relationship with our national dealer body and showed exemplary leadership during difficult times for the brand,” he added.