Martin Winterkorn

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Martin Winterkorn
Martin Winterkorn 2015-03-13 001.jpg
Martin Winterkorn in 2015
Born (1947-05-24) 24 May 1947 (age 68)
Leonberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Occupation Former Chairman of the Vorstand Volkswagen AG
Known for Chairman of the Vorstand for Volkswagen

Martin Winterkorn (born 24 May 1947) is the former chairman of the board of directors (CEO, Vorstandsvorsitzender in German) of Volkswagen AG, the parent company of the Volkswagen Group, and chairman of the supervisory board of Audi and Porsche Automobil Holding SE.[1]

He succeeded Bernd Pischetsrieder as CEO of Volkswagen AG in 2007. Prior to that, he had been the chairman of the board of management of the Volkswagen Group subsidiary Audi AG.[2]

Winterkorn resigned from Volkswagen on 23 September 2015, several days after an emissions cheating scandal was revealed that concerned the company's diesel cars.[3][4]



Winterkorn studied metallurgy and metal physics at the University of Stuttgart from 1966 to 1973. From 1973 to 1977 he was a PhD student at the Max-Planck-Institute for Metal Research and Metal Physics, where he received his doctorate in 1977. He played football as a goalkeeper.[5]


Winterkorn embarked on his career in 1977, as a specialist assistant in the research division "Process Engineering" at Robert Bosch GmbH.[6] From 1978 to 1981, he headed the refrigerant compressor development group "Substances and Processes" at Robert Bosch and Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeräte GmbH.

In 1993 Winterkorn became head of Group Quality Assurance at Volkswagen AG, and was appointed General Manager of Volkswagen AG with power of attorney in March 1994. He was additionally responsible for the VW Group Product Management from June 1995. In January 1996, Winterkorn took over from Herbert Schuster as Member of the Brand Board of Management for "Technical Development" for the Volkswagen brand.[7] From July 2000, he was Member of the VW Group Board of Management for Technical Development. Winterkorn was instrumental in getting Volkswagen CEO Ferdinand Piëch to approve the production of the New Beetle.

Winterkorn had been chairman of the board of management of Audi AG since 1 March 2002. He headed the Audi brand group, including the brands SEAT and Lamborghini, which was formed on 1 January 2002. Winterkorn also assumed responsibility for Technical Development at Audi AG with effect from 1 January 2003. In his capacity as CEO of the Board of Management of Audi AG, Winterkorn was also Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.[8]

He succeeded Bernd Pischetsrieder as CEO of Volkswagen AG on 1 January 2007, and by 2014 he was the highest paid CEO of all companies listed on Germany's blue-chip DAX stock market.[9][10]

Since June 2003, Winterkorn has served as an honorary professor of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, in recognition of his service to the promotion of research at the establishment.[6] He was featured both in the 2007[11] and the 2008 Power List of American automotive magazine Motor Trend.[12]

In 2013, Winterkorn set the goal for VW to become "the world’s most profitable, fascinating and sustainable automobile manufacturer" by 2018, bypassing GM and Toyota.[5]

Among Winterkorn's initiatives are the platforms MQB and MLB which standardize the area between gas pedal and front wheels (including engines) where 60% of the development costs occur, to reduce cost while increasing design flexibility for the rest of the car.[5][13]

In the VW Group, he was viewed as having attention to detail,[14] being "product-focused" and "methodical and precise", but also demanding.[15]

Diesel emissions scandal[edit]

In September 2015, Winterkorn apologized for Volkswagen AG having installed software in its diesel cars to allow the vehicles to pass emissions tests by decreasing emissions when the vehicle detected it was undergoing testing but otherwise pollute at amounts well beyond legally allowed limits. Winterkorn confirmed that Volkswagen AG could face fines of up to $18bn, but had not issued a recall at the time of Winterkorn's departure.[16] Winterkorn blamed "the terrible mistakes of a few people," whom he did not name, for the international scandal.[17][18] Winterkorn resigned as CEO on 23 September 2015, as he accepted responsibility for the scandal while asserting that he was "not aware of any wrongdoing on my part." [19][20]


  1. ^ "Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Martin Winterkorn". Volkswagen AG. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Bernd Pischetsrieder. "Bernd Pischetsrieder: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  3. ^ Moore, Thad (23 September 2015). "Volkswagen CEO quits amid emissions cheating scandal". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Woodyard, Chris (23 September 2015). "VW CEO resigns in cheating scandal". The Detroit Free Press. p. 1B. 
  5. ^ a b c Muller, Joann (2013-05-06). "How Volkswagen Will Rule The World" Forbes Magazine. Page 2 Page 3 Archive of page 1
  6. ^ a b "EXECUTIVE PROFILE - Martin Winterkorn". Business Week. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  7. ^ "Ein Schwabe in Wolfsburg: Martin Winterkorn, 48...". Auto, Motor und Sport. Heft. 6 1996: Pages 206–208. 8 March 1996. 
  8. ^ "Supervisory Board". Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  9. ^ Mark Landler (Nov 8, 2006). "After Power Struggle, Volkswagen Ousts Its Chief". 
  10. ^ "Germany investigates VW's ex-boss over fraud allegations". Reuters. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2015-09-28. 
  11. ^ "The 2007 Power List". Motor Trend. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  12. ^ "The 2008 Power List". Motor Trend. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  13. ^ Schmitt, Bertel (2011-08-07). "The Revolution Of The Car Industry: Kit Cars". The Truth About Cars. The Truth About Cars. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  14. ^ Muller 2013. Quote: "earning a reputation as a boss who obsesses about the tiniest product details"
  15. ^ Muller 2013. Quote: "He doesn’t like bad news. Before anyone reports to him, they make sure they have good news."
  16. ^ Patrick George. "Your Guide To Dieselgate: Volkswagen's Diesel Cheating Catastrophe ". Jalopnik. 
  17. ^ "Volkswagen diesel scandal threatens to ruin its credibility and value". The Los Angeles Times. September 22, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Volkswagen scandal: CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns over emissions deception - as it happened on Wednesday". 23 September 2015. 
  19. ^ Bomey, Nathan (23 September 2015). "Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns amid scandal". USA Today. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "VW scandal: German prosecutors probe Winterkorn as Volkswagen emissions-rigging crisis spreads to 2.1 million Audi cars and Skoda models". Retrieved 2015-09-28. 

External link[edit]

Media related to Martin Winterkorn at Wikimedia Commons