Former Volkswagen Employee Speaks Out about Past Rumors inside the Plant
Volkswagen Chattanooga finds itself in the middle of an international business scandal and it is growing by the day.
After first admitting half a million cars were rigged to help meet emissions standards. Shares in Europe's biggest car maker dropped 20 % Monday and another 20 % Wednesday morning. Corporate leaders are apologizing and using words like "dishonest", "misconduct" and even saying quote "we screwed up."
Channel 3 spoke with a former Volkswagen employee of 5 years, who wants to set the record straight. He says he and other employees heard rumors of emissions cheating in the past, but they didn't think the rumors were true.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is fighting to save his job and the reputation of the company. He admits the company broke trust of customers and the public.
The German automaker company now admits to installing "cheating software" on nearly 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide. Some of those vehicles were made right here in Chattanooga.
"I worked 5 years, switched back and forth between electrical tech and finish repair and actually I enjoyed my time there," said former employee Tyre Mathias.
Former Volkswagen Employee Tyre Mathias tells Channel 3, he often heard rumors of failed emissions and trickery.
"The rumors were saying that they were having problems with the emissions, the cars wouldn't pass emissions and they were doing something to pass emissions," said Mathias.
He said there was never any real proof, just talk.
"We laughed at it and said no that's not true, we figured in our opinion the company would have more integrity than to do something like that.. so we passed it off as something that definitely wasn't true," said Mathias.
VW fired Mathias three weeks ago for breaking policy by bringing a camera phone into the plant. He says he has no hard feelings, he's just worried about his former co-workers.
"My initial reaction was what's going to happen to the people there? What's going to happen to Volkswagen and a lot of the employees as far as jobs," said Mathias."What's going to happen to Chattanooga if they pull out?"
About 3,000 people work inside of the local plant in Chattanooga.
"Most of them are just a little worried, concerned about what's next," said Mathias. "Will they have a job for Christmas? Will they be able to get Christmas for their kids and have Thanksgiving?"
"It's pretty much just limbo right now," said Mathias "Everybody is just waiting and wondering...... trying to figure out what's next."
Chattanooga State officials tell us there are 65 students currently enrolled in the Volkswagen Academy -- all working toward a career inside of plant. Classes are staying on track. At this time Volkswagen has halted the sale of 2015 models and they are prohibited from selling 2016 models until the problem is fixed. The government could fine VW more than 18 billion dollars.