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Embattled VW names Porsche leader Mueller as chief executive

Matthias Mueller named as Volkswagen’s new chief executive

Volkswagen named Matthias Mueller, its Porsche head, as chief executive to replace Martin Winterkorn, who quit amid the German automaker’s emissions scandal.

(Odd Andersen / AFP/Getty Images)

Working to recover from a widespread cheating scheme to evade emissions regulations, Volkswagen named the top manager of its Porsche subsidiary as chief executive of the parent company.

Volkswagen said Friday that Matthias Mueller, 62, will replace Martin Winterkorn, 68, who resigned this week as the scandal quickly grew to affect 11 million vehicles worldwide.

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“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency,” Mueller said.

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Under his watch, Mueller pledged, Volkswagen will “develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.”

Mueller won the immediate endorsement of labor leaders.

“We know and value Matthias Mueller for his determination and decisiveness. He does not work on his own, rather he is a team player. That is what Volkswagen needs now,” said Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the Group Works Council, VW’s union.

Volkswagen also appointed Winfried Vahland, chief of its Skoda division, to head the German automaker’s North American operations. However, Michael Horn will remain chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.

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Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board said they had caught Volkswagen using sophisticated software to cheat on pollution tests on 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S.

Volkswagen faces criminal and civil investigations in the U.S. and potential EPA fines that could reach $18 billion. VW already has taken a $7-billion charge to set aside money to cover the cost of the scandal.

Mueller started as a toolmaker at Audi and then studied at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, obtaining his master’s degree in computer science. He has held a variety of positions at Volkswagen and has headed Porsche since 2010.

“He’s respected and well-liked here,” said a Porsche employee who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. “He gives his executives a lot of autonomy.”

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

Times staff writer Charles Fleming contributed to this report.

 

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