Michael Horn, the CEO and president of Volkswagen Group of America, has stepped down. Horn has been the chief of VW's US affairs since January 2014, and ever since Dieselgate broke last September, he's basically been the face of the brand.
Despite the recent scandals he's faced, Horn was popular among Volkswagen's dealers in the US and was always on top of his game, making this a bit of a surprising move -- and one that's disappointed the dealers he's worked with.
"The [VW] National Dealer Advisory Council wants to acknowledge Michael for his leadership and strength through the continued mismanagement of the diesel scandal that has plagued our sales and reputation more than any other global market," the dealer collective said in a statement to Automotive News to Automotive News. It also referred to Horn's stepping down as a "serious blow."
In a statement, Volkswagen claims that Horn's departure was "through mutual agreement," although it declined to go into deeper specifics. "During his time in the US, Michael Horn built up a strong relationship with our national dealer body," said Dr. Herbert Deiss, Volkswagen Group CEO, in a statement. "[He] showed exemplary leadership during difficult times for the brand."
There is no word on who his official replacement will be. But for the time being, the position will be filled by Hinrich J. Woebcken, the man Volkswagen hired to run its North American operations.
Despite growth nearly across the board in the auto industry, Volkswagen's US sales are down nearly 15 percent this year.