Winterkorn is the infamous former chairman of the board of management (CEO, Vorstandsvorsitzender in German) of Volkswagen AG, the parent company of the Volkswagen Group, and former chairman of the supervisory board of Audi and the board of management of Porsche Automobil Holding SE. He succeeded Bernd Pischetsrieder as CEO of Volkswagen AG in 2007. Prior to that, he had been the chairman of the board of management of the Volkswagen Group subsidiary Audi AG. As a businessman, his success was apparent, but was forced to tend his resignation from Volkswagen on 23 September 2015, several days after an emissions cheating scandal was revealed about the company's diesel cars. He resigned as chairman of Audi on 11 November 2015, after further information associated with the scandal was revealed in regard to his association with VW's gasoline-powered engines.
After the case, Winterkorn was criminally indicted over the emissions cheating scandal in the USA on May 3, 2018 on charges of fraud and conspiracy. In April 2019 he was criminally indicted on charges of fraud in German
As chair of the Volkswagen Group, Martin Winterkorn urged European regulators not to overburden the automotive industry with excessive emission targets, citing a lack of time to develop fuel-efficient technology and the economic downturn as major concerns. Sales were imperative, and emphasized before all else. The scorn is especially strong against Winterkorn, who vowed to make the company the biggest electric carmaker in the world and put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. The German automaker-- whose brands include Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini -- reported selling over 7.5 million vehicles this year and is close to achieving its goal of 10 million automobile sales in 2014.
In 2012, he was listed as the best paid CEO in Germany making $23 million. Now he is fighting criminal charges. His net worth is still unlisted, likely to keep creditors away from it.