CHRISTINA ROGERS

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn's pay is raising eyebrows, too

Christina Rogers covers VW and regulatory/legislative issues for Automotive News.Christina Rogers covers VW and regulatory/legislative issues for Automotive News.
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog had an inaccurate figure for VW's global sales last year.

WOLFSBURG, Germany -- Ford CEO Alan Mulally isn't the only major car executive raising eyebrows with his annual pay.

Today, at Volkswagen AG's annual meeting in Wolfsburg, journalists were particularly inquisitive about the 17.5 million euros earned by CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2011.

That's about $23 million -- all in cash and about double his pay from the year before. VW execs, unlike their U.S. counterparts, don't receive any compensation in stocks.

The reporters, seemingly shocked by his yearly haul, peppered him with questions.

One asked what Winterkorn plans to do with all that money? Clearly, he's not in need of a new car, the reporter added.

Winterkorn declined comment.

Another reporter asked if auto executives are becoming the new bankers when it comes to pay.

VW's top boss gave a more detailed reply this time, saying: We have a real result we generate. Some bankers got bonuses even when the company was bankrupt. (His response was in German and conveyed via a translator.)

To be sure, VW and its top executives are delivering. Winterkorn's salary may have doubled, but so did the company's net profits last year. It also hit a global sales record in 2011 with 8.3 million vehicles sold worldwide.

Not too bad for an automaker that has stated a sales target of 10 million globally by 2018.

Comparatively, Mulally's total compensation package in 2010, as reported by Ford, was $26.5 million, making him among the highest-paid CEOs in the United States. His total 2011 compensation has not yet been disclosed.

His 2010 income, however, drew the ire of UAW President Bob King, who called it "morally wrong."

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