Law360, New York (March 9, 2016, 8:12 PM ET) — Volkswagen AG’s top U.S. executive, Michael Horn, embroiled for the past five months in a massive controversy over the company’s alleged cheating of emissions standards through software installed in its diesel vehicles, has left the company after two years as its CEO, Volkswagen said in a statement on Wednesday.
Horn, Volkswagen Group of America’s president and CEO since January 2014, is leaving the company to “pursue other opportunities effective immediately,” according to a press release put out by Volkswagen on Wednesday afternoon. Horn worked for Volkswagen in some capacity for more than 25 years prior to landing the top executive job two years ago, the automaker said.
Hinrich J. Woebcken, who was recently announced as the new head of the North America region and chairman of VW Group of America, will assume Horn’s previous role on an interim basis, Volkswagen said.
“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,” Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen brand, said in a statement. “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.”
Horn could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, and a representative for Volkswagen did not immediately return a request for comment.
The automaker has been swamped in controversy since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Sept. 18 that it had discovered that the automaker had equipped about 11 million 2.0-liter diesel engine cars with software specifically designed to evade federal emissions standards, in violation of the Clean Air Act.