The diesel emissions scandal has shaken Volkswagen, a once proud automaker, to its very core. Martin Winterkorn lost his job and 600,000 workers feel uncertain about their future. Customers and the government are angry.
The decision to systematically cheat diesel emissions tests has already cost Germany’s largest industrial enterprise €30 million in stock value. Add to that the damage done to Volkswagen’s image. The automaker now stands not only for German engineering know-how, but also for premeditated law breaking. It will take years before the company recovers from the scandal.
The time is ripe for a new beginning, but the supervisory board in Wolfsburg apparently didn’t have the courage to turn the page. Its decision to appoint Porsche chief Mattias Müller as Volkswagen’s new chief executive does not send a signal of fundamental change.
For all his many achievements, Mr. Müller is simply too closely tied to the old system. His owes his rise at Volkswagen to two men – Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piëch. Both turned the automaker into what it is today – a complex, hierarchically organized power structure that’s nearly impossible to control.