Volkswagen's dealers have thrown their support behind Michael Horn, the North American chief executive who has reportedly been fired amid a deepening scandal over the manipulation of diesel engine technology.
The scandal has "hit the dealers in the U.S. extremely hard," said Alan Brown, chairman of VW's National Dealer Advisory Council, in a statement obtained by Automotive Fleet.
"We have been suffering from an outdated product cycle, overpriced product, and a deteriorating relationship between the dealer body and Volkswagen for a number of years," Brown wrote. "That all changed when Michael Horn was made CEO of Volkswagen of North America in January of 2014."
Horn "tirelessly fought" for North American dealers to "correct the many missteps of prior management," Brown added.
Horn and two other executives will likely be fired Sept. 25 during the company's executive board meeting. Volkswagen AG's chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned on Sept. 23. Ulrich Hackenberg, who oversaw Audi's research and development and Wolfgang Hatz, who was in charge of R&D for Porsche, are expected to lose their jobs, reports Reuters. Matthias Muller, now the Porsche chief executive, is expected to replace Winterkorn.
Winfried Vahland, who runs the company’s Skoda division, will likely take over for Horn, reported Bloomberg via Auto Bild magazine.
Brown said the removal of Horn would be "nothing short of catastrophic to our market and our relationship."