Category: Germany

By on May 17, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

German prosecutors verified the launch of a formal investigation involving Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch due to suspected market manipulation.

While we reported on the probe last week, Müller’s inclusion was highly unexpected. It was unclear what, if anything, officials had on the CEO and why they waited until now to add him to the growing number of upper-level executives under examination.

The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office stated on Wednesday the investigation was prompted by a request from market regulator BaFin in the summer of 2016. After spending some time gathering evidence, investigators began to believe executives deliberately postponed releasing information to investors about the scale of the scandal and didn’t adequately disclose its financial consequences.

VW Group maintains the leadership had complied with disclosure rules and executives were unaware of the scope of the emissions cheating scandal when it kicked-off.  Read More >

By on May 11, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller is under investigation in Germany over the possibility he withheld important information on the company’s emissions scandal to investors, as well as potential market manipulation relating to Porsche. While public prosecutors continued to broaden their search among high-ranking company officials, the inclusion of the CEO is a bit of a surprise.

It was widely believed Müller would be free from scrutiny as he was appointed to replace ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn shortly after the emissions scandal went public in September 2015. Initially, German investigators even stated the CEO was not suspected of any wrongdoing. Then, in March of 2017, prosecutors launched a raid that seized the mobile phones, electronic passwords, appointment books, and email files of numerous Volkswagen and Audi employees — including Müller.  Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has said it is making efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Grohmann Engineering’s legacy clients, including Daimler, BMW, Bosch, Intel, and Volkswagen Group. After the Tesla takeover last November, CEO Elon Musk indicated to Grohmann’s management team that the brunt of its efforts should be diverted away from former customers in order to focus primarily on production facilities related to the Model 3.

The move placed Musk at odds with company founder Klaus Grohmann, eventually resulting in his abrupt departure, and was a major source of tension among the German workforce — which, backed by IG Metall, has threatened to strike. Negotiations have already yielded improved worker pay and hiring promises, but Tesla now appears to be tackling the issue of how to handle the numerous clients who have been hung out to dry. Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

Peugeot 208, Image: PSA Group

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And when you’re the architect of a leasing promotion gone bad (by way of being too successful), you’re fired.

PSA Group reportedly canned its top German managers after a scorching lease deal on Peugeot 208 hatchbacks sent the country’s residents clamoring for wildly discounted French cars.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

After history’s largest and most expensive automotive scandal forced a sudden pivot at Volkswagen Group — from expansion-minded to profit-focused — the German automaker might let go of a cherished toy.

According to insider sources who spoke to Reuters, VW is exploring the sale of Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati as part of a company-wide streamlining effort. After shoveling over $20 billion to the United States in a bid to end its diesel debacle, the company is in full penny-pinching mode.

The revered boutique motorcycle company was a long-awaited feather in ex-VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s hat, but after just five years of ownership, it may be time for Ducati to find a new home. Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3

It’s no secret that the success of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 will dictate its position as a mainstream automaker for the foreseeable future. Tesla’s current status as the most valuable carmaker in the United States is riding, almost entirely, on the problem-free assembly of its “affordable” EV this summer. So, when one of its German suppliers threatened to go on strike earlier this month, you can imagine the series of panic attacks CEO Elon Musk probably suffered.

Last week, the company’s recently acquired industrial robotics unit Grohmann began labor negotiations over insufficient wages and Tesla’s decision to suspend all contracts that didn’t pertain specifically to the Model 3. And, to ensure things went his way, Musk has become directly involved in the process.

Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

08C114_029

In a developing story, the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office has launched an investigation into employees of Daimler, parent company and manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC engines. At issue is the (lately) very common Germanic malady of diesel infidelity.

Read More >

By on March 20, 2017

Marijuana weed pot joint

If you end up purchasing a BMW 3 or 4 Series model build at the automaker’s Munich assembly plant in early march, just know this: two of the workers building it might have been high as a kite.

A report in today’s Bild newspaper claims that two workers were so blitzed on booze and synthetic marijuana that they passed out while working on the assembly line, causing a temporary — and costly — shutdown. Yes, this happened, BMW has confirmed. Read More >

By on March 11, 2017

volkswagen i.d. buzz concept

If your life goals for the near future include recreating the Summer of Love, there’s some far-out news arriving from Volkswagen. Public reaction to the automaker’s electric I.D. Buzz concept proved positive enough to give executives confidence in European and American demand for the reborn Microbus.

Unfortunately for latter-day hippies and retirement-age flower children, their enthusiasm for this out-of-sight green machine won’t be enough for VW to start production. It seems that the model’s future hinges not on the Counter Culture Revolution, but the Cultural Revolution. Read More >

By on February 25, 2017

opel-ampera-e-paris-626x382

Apparently, the tidy sale of General Motors’ European division to French automaker PSA Group isn’t so clean-cut after all.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, PSA is looking to secure more than just the Opel and Vauxhall brands. It also wants a key bit of gear — one that would make the new European alliance market leaders in electric vehicle technology.

GM isn’t willing to let it go without a host of conditions. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Opel Ampera-e

Peugeot Citroën’s planned purchase of Opel and its operations from General Motors is believed to be largely a done deal, with only minor details remaining.

According to Bildthe details will be announced on the first of March. It’s thought that both GM and PSA want to sign the papers before the Geneva International Autosalon, where Opel will introduce the new Insignia sedan and PSA plans to show the new DS7 mid-size crossover. The deal does not include Australia’s once-glorious-but-now-gutted Holden brand. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Design Center Audi. Picture courtesy Audi

There’s no end to the layers of intrigue swirling around the upper echelons of Audi.

Last week saw four engineers who worked on the company’s emissions-rigged diesel engines fired, with one of them, former engine development chief Ulrich Weiss, claiming in court that CEO Rupert Stadler was privy to the deception.

Audi fired back with a lawsuit threat against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations” and the revealing of internal documents. Now, the German publication Bild has released information on a potentially damning document that was reportedly locked away in Weiss’s safe since 2015 for exactly this purpose.

Weiss pulled out the document in a German labor court Tuesday to prove he’s the “pawn” his lawyer claims. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Politicians from Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony are raising questions over the unanticipated departure of the German automaker’s compliance chief, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, saying they have concerns over how the supervisory board handled the matter. There has been a long-standing apprehension among investors and business analysts that VW is too tightly controlled by its founding Porsche-Piech family and incapable of amelioration.

On Wednesday, Deutsche lawmakers called for a formal inquiry on the matter.

Hohmann-Dennhardt was brought aboard very late in 2015 to assist in Volkswagen’s reformation following the diesel emissions cheating scandal. However last month, after only a year on the job, she left abruptly with a sizable pension and gargantuan severance. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

Opel Insignia Sport Tourer

Opel autoworkers and executives worried that a French takeover will see their pretzels and bratwurst replaced by baguettes and brie can rest easy, or so the automaker looking to buy their company claims.

France’s PSA Group, which could submit a bid to buy Opel and sister division Vauxhall this week, would give the German automaker the autonomy it desperately craves, the company’s CEO told labor reps and Germany’s chancellor.

That elongated “Z” won’t become a fleur-de-lis. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

2014 audi a6 tdi engine

Audi appears to be going on the defensive and closing ranks around its CEO following a tumultuous week filled with accusations and revelations.

Late last week, the automaker fired four top engineers who worked on the brand’s diesel technology, including head of engine development Ulrich Weiss. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports that Weiss, who has been on paid leave since the diesel emissions scandal erupted, presented documents in court that appeared to show CEO Rupert Stadler had knowledge of the defeat devices as early as 2012.

Audi is now seeking charges against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations,” as well as revealing internal documents. Unfortunately for the automaker, another German media outlet has gotten its hands on an infamous PowerPoint presentation. Read More >

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