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Volkswagen CEO steps down amid US emissions-rigging scandal

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2015 | 9:54 AMAP

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down Wednesday over a scandal in which the German carmaker admitted to rigging its diesel cars' emissions to pass United States tests.

In a statement, Winterkorn said he took responsibility for the "irregularities" found in diesel engines but that he was "not aware of any wrongdoing on my part."

No replacement for the post of CEO was announced.

"Volkswagen needs a fresh start — also in terms of personnel," he said. "I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation."

Winterkorn said VW must continue the process of "clarification and transparency."

"This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis," he added.

Following his statement, VW's share price was up 8.7 per cent at €121.

Still, it has a long way to make up for the declines that saw nearly €25 billion (around US$28 billion) wiped off the company's market value.

Winterkorn had come under intense pressure since last Friday's disclosure from the US Environmental Protection Agency that the company had tried to dupe testers over emissions coming from its diesel cars.

The EPA has said Volkswagen AG could face fines of as much as US$18 billion. Other countries, such as South Korea, have also ordered investigations into emission levels of VW cars and some law firms in North America have filed class-action suits.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen said 11 million of its vehicles worldwide contained the so-called "defeat device" that allowed the cars to beat the testers. Its revelation was a stunning increase from the 482,000 cars previously identified by the EPA.