Volkswagen's U.S. dealerships sharply criticized the embattled German automaker following the departure of its U.S. chief last week.
Volkswagen Group of America announced Wednesday that president and CEO Michael Horn left to pursue other opportunities "effective immediately" and that new group chairman Hinrich J. Woebcken would take over on an interim basis.
VW officials characterized the decision as "mutual" and thanked Horn for his "exemplary leadership during difficult times for the brand." VW brand CEO Herbert Diess also lauded Horn's "strong relationship with our national dealer body."
Dealers, meanwhile, were reportedly furious with the decision and blamed VW for a slew of issues in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal.
"I'm telling you that the dealer network is becoming very, very, very frustrated very quickly," Alan Brown of the Volkswagen's National Dealer Advisory Council told USA Today.
The U.S. was ground zero for the global scandal over VW diesel vehicles after regulators found that engine software was rigged to ensure lower emission levels during official testing.
The controversy hammered domestic VW sales in recent months. Horn apologized both to the public and to Congress in the weeks following the EPA announcement last fall.
In addition, VW dealerships offered steep discounts and Horn announced $1,000 in gift cards available to affected owners in hopes of maintaining sales numbers.
The gift card plan, in particular, drew the ire of VW officials in Germany, Brown said. He also told the Associated Press that Horn clashed with company executives about its U.S. vehicle lineup and prices.
Dealers are also reportedly upset about recall plans for its diesel vehicles, which remain unresolved in the U.S. months after European regulators cleared a fix for most of the affected vehicles.
“We are troubled watching the mismanagement of this scandal from Germany and how it may impact the ultimate decisions by the authorities in the United States,” the dealers' group told The New York Times. "This change in management can only serve to put the company at more risk, not less.”