By on December 4, 2015

Ulrich Hackenberg, who was Audi’s chief engineer and among the first to be rumored to catch heat for Volkswagen’s diesel scandal, resigned Thursday according to the automaker.

Audi’s new chairman of its supervisory board, Matthias Müller, said Hackenberg was responsible for implementing designs such as the automaker’s current MQB global architecture and cars such as the A3, A4, A6, A8 and TT.

“Above all, the modular toolkit system is inseparably connected with the name of Ulrich Hackenberg. He had that idea already in the early nineties at Audi. Today, the entire Group profits from it,” Müller said in a statement.

Hackenberg’s decision also adds pressure to Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler to show that the longtime CEO was unaware that the group’s 3-liter diesel, which U.S. regulators targeted last month, was cheating emissions as well. Audi built the diesel engine that was installed in many of its models, including the A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7 as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.

Reuters reported that Stadler was questioned by Audi’s supervisory board Thursday and will have to answer again next week when Volkswagen’s supervisory council meets again.

“We pushed for action in the interest of workers and that’s exactly what’s happening now,” Peter Mosch, chairman of Audi’s general works council and a member of the supervisory board said according to Reuters (via Automotive News). “Further consequences need to be drawn now to ensure that this won’t happen again.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, initial investigations into the cheating scandal focused on Hackenberg and suspended Volkswagen engineer Wolfgang Hatz.

Audi announced that Stefan Knirsch will replace Hackenberg as head of technical development for Audi.

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10 Comments on “Suspended Top Audi Engineer Quits After 30 Years With German Automaker...”

  • avatar

    That name, tho…

    • 0 avatar

      At a recent Stadler office meeting:

      Staff member: “Mein Fuhrer, all attempts to discover who sabotaged our firmware has failed. We’ve run out of leads.”

      “Realy. Hmmm… Maybe we’re lookng too hard. Do you have a list of all possible suspects?”

      “Yes mein Fuhrer.”

      “Read them to me.”

      “Yes mein Fuhrer.”

      The reading begins and is abruptly called to a halt.

      “Wait. Cease. Repeat that last name”

      “Yes mein Fuhrer. Ulrich Hackenberg…”

      “And he works where?”

      “At Research and Development in Ingolstadt, mein Fuhrer.”

      “Hack. Enberg… Hack… How near is this to Neuberg?”

      “About ten minutes by ordinary car mein Fuhrer. Five minutes in an Audi.”

      “Yes! Of course! Our hack is someone working near Neuberg! Hackenberg!

      “Mein Fuhrer! This is genius!

      “Call him. He’s fired.”

  • avatar

    I think it wasn’t so much he “quit” as was told, “If you don’t resign, we are going to make even more of an example out of you than you already are, and of course you will have been explicitly fired for cause.” (No idea if being fired for cause has the same repercussions in Germany as it does the US.

    I know in the US it is common that an employee fired for cause would not be eligible for a legal defense provided by the company in the case of any criminal charges, while an employee that resigned usually is.

    • 0 avatar

      He was going to retire soon anyway. He was a central part of the gang that moved Audi from a so-so obscurity, to a legitimate BMW challenger. More likely than not perfectly happy to take some heat, if it can help those remaining at the company.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m pretty certain that Hackenberg had already been planning on retiring since 2013; His move back to Audi in 2013 was primarily to reorganize and reinvigorate their R&D after Wolfgang Durheimer (love the names) let things languish, especially compared to what BMW was/is doing at the time.

        That said, I have little doubt that the management committee made it clear to him that it would likely be impossible to keep him around for political reasons and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

  • avatar

    What a hack.

  • avatar

    Too early to leave. Wrong way to go about it. If he wanted to help, resign later and take more of the heat out through the door.

  • avatar

    So long Ulrich! I personally want to thank you for all the ultra-reliable cars you engineered over the past 30 years.

    Good Job, Brownie! Mission accomplished!

  • avatar

    In other VW news – the UAW successfully unionized the skilled trade workers at the VW Chattanooga plant tonight.

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