Analysts have wondered how someone who paid so much attention to detail would allow something to go so awry in the U.S. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files
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Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn stepped down as the automaker became increasingly isolated amid a scandal over cheating on U.S. emissions tests.Winterkorn, who took over in 2007, led a turnaround that propelled VW from an also-ran that had cut 20,000 German jobs under his predecessor to a global powerhouse with about 600,000 employees that included a stable of 12 brands from Lamborghini supercars to Scania heavy trucks.When Piech turned on Winterkorn this year, the CEO fought for his job and, to the surprise of many company insiders, won.The new CEO's top priority will be getting to the bottom of a scheme intended to dupe regulators and consumers about emissions of diesel engines installed in 11 million cars worldwide – more vehicles than VW sells in a year. The automaker set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) Tuesday to cover potential costs.Working in the new CEO's favor is an automaker that for the moment is financially sound.VW surpassed Toyota Motor Corp. in the first half to take the top spot in worldwide vehicle sales – a goal that Winterkorn set early in his tenure to reach in 2018 .
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