VW’s problems went from almost impossibly bad to definitely that apocalyptically bad earlier today, when Volkwagen’s stock fell a dramatic 23% in this morning’s trading after news broke over the weekend that the company faced up to $18 billion in EPA fines. The plunge slashed the company’s market capitalization by more than $17 billion according to Bloomberg, which provided this handy-dandy chart that neatly describes VW’s current situation …
… which — I mean — Kudos to the Bloomberg editorial team for managing to report on everything that’s been going on over at Volkswagen’s German HQ without using the words “utterly” or “f***ed,” you know? I don’t think I’d be able to do the same.
VW’s CEO is Utterly F***ed, Too
As f***ed as VW most certainly is, the current VW CEO, Martin Winterkorn, is even more f***ed. Martin was forced to issue a very public mea culpa after the story broke, saying “I, personally, am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.” Feeling bad, however, isn’t likely to save Winterkorn’s job. His contract renewal is scheduled for a supervisory board vote on Friday, but Google is already citing Herbert Diess as VW CEO starting October 1st.
Even if the VW CEO is fired, it’s not likely that either VW or Winterkorn’s problems will be over anytime soon. Amid calls from within Germany asking the German government to investigate the matter, there are reports about new tensions in Volkswagen’s leadership ranks as old power struggles between Winterkorn and former chairman Ferdinand Piech (who resigned nearly five months ago) come back to the fore. At the same time, government agencies throughout Europe and Asia — which have some pretty serious penalties for excessive polluters — are being pushed to revisit the technology in Volkswagen’s diesel cars there. And, keep in mind, diesel is far more popular in those markets than it is in the US, making the potential $18 billion EPA and CARB fines seem almost reasonable in comparison.