March 10, 2016 - 07:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Volkswagen's top executive in the U.S. is stepping down nearly six months after the German carmaker became engulfed in the diesel emissions scandal.
Michael Horn, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen (VW) of America since 2014, is leaving "through mutual agreement", the company said, according to BBC News.
The statement made no mention of the emissions issue, disclosed by U.S. regulators last year.
Another U.S. executive, Hinrich Woebcken, takes over on an interim basis.
Horn's departure comes as VW continues to negotiate with U.S. environmental regulators, the Department of Justice, and lawyers representing consumers who are suing the company for compensation.
VW said Horn's departure was "effective immediately".
In VW's statement, Herbert Diess, chief executive of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, 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."
The company has admitted that its Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesels, marketed as environmentally friendly, were equipped with devices that lowered emissions results during tests.
Almost 600,000 VW cars in the U.S. are affected, but the company says about 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with the engine software.
VW has acknowledged that the costs for recalls, compensation and fines could run into many billions of euros.
Last September, just after U.S. regulators disclosed VW's use of the so-called "defeat devices", Horn, 54, said at a vehicle launch event that the company "totally screwed up".
He was the senior VW representative to appear before a Congressional committee investigating the scandal. Horn said the emissions devices were the work of a few individuals, but not VW's top leadership.
Woebcken, the North American regional chief and chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, takes over immediately.