By on September 20, 2016

2014 audi a6 tdi side

Who knew what, and when? That’s what investigators at U.S. law firm Jones Day plan to find out when it puts Audi chief Rupert Stadler on the hot seat in its investigation of the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

According to a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel, witnesses at the company claim Stadler knew about the diesel deception as early as 2010, Bloomberg reports.

The news comes as another German publication reports the suspension of Audi technical development boss Stefan Knirsch.

Jones Day was hired by Volkswagen to investigate the company after the scandal became public. During its probe, witnesses reportedly came forward claiming Stadler was privy to knowledge about the emissions-cheating engines.

Joining Audi AG in 1990, Stadler has served as chairman of its board of management since 2007. He joined Volkswagen Group’s board of management in 2010. In becoming Audi chief, Stadler replaced Martin Winterkorn, who became CEO of Volkswagen. Winterkorn resigned that position shortly after the scandal broke.

Current VW executives have already felt the heat from investigators. In July, German prosecutors opened an investigation into VW brand chief Herbert Diess.

Shortly after Winterkorn resigned, Ulrich Hackenberg was forced out of his role as technical development chief. His successor, Stefan Knirsch, will likely face the same fate. According to German publication Bild am Sonntag, Knirsch will be relieved of his duties this week after investigators received information showing he knew about the defeat devices at an early date. Knirsch reportedly provided a false affidavit to investigators.

Defeat devices were installed on Audi 3.0-liter diesel V6 engines at the same time as Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinders. Their discovery led to millions of recalls, including the buyback of 475,000 2.0-liter vehicles in the United States. A total of 85,000 3.0-liter vehicles, mostly Audis, are also sidelined in the U.S., with the automaker desperately looking for a workable fix.

Volkswagen has until late October to submit a fix to regulators, and has already started settlement talks.

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12 Comments on “Audi Chief Knew About Defeat Device, say Witnesses, as Automaker Suspends Tech Boss...”

  • avatar

    Truth in Engineering?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    VAG diesel will not return to the US.

    Writing nit: “Their discovery led to millions of recalls”. I think you mean “Their discovery led to the recall of millions of vehicles”.

    RE: 3.0 TDIs: “with the automaker desperately looking for a workable fix” I believe they’ve given up on a technical fix. The “fix” will be a financial remedy, accompanied by the sound of crushed Volkswagens, Audis, and Porsches.

    • 0 avatar

      They haven’t thrown in the towel on a fix for the 3.0L TDI yet. According to the last hearing on the matter hey think they have a fix, and they’re getting ready to submit it to the Feds for testing. The judge only just this month ordered them to start putting together a “Plan B” (aka, buyback) for the 3.0L models in case the fix isn’t approved.

  • avatar

    I suspect the whole industry knew about this. They tear-down each other’s vehicles to see what makes them tick, and they must have been extra curious about how VW was able to meet tough diesel emission standards without expensive urea injection systems. I am sure they found out that cheating was the method VW chose, and that this information ran right up the chain among all VW’s competitors and the automotive suppliers. I’m a bit surprised no one blew the whistle years ago, but suspect that the reason is that every firm has some dirt on all their competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      stingray65, I also suspect that the whole industry had clues that Volkswagen was cheating on Diesel emissions in the US, but their “Clean Diesel” models weren’t selling in large enough numbers to justify whistle blowing. Consumer interest in diesel vehicles in the US took a big hit 10 years ago with the huge price increase of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      I suspect someone DID blow the whistle, but did so anonymously and off the record. Competing diesel manufacturers who were playing by the book knew what VW was doing and wanted the playing field leveled too much to keep quiet.

      It’s just too convenient that CARB and WVU decided to examine VW diesels when they did. Someone whispered in their ear what to look for.

      • 0 avatar

        This whole thing started in Europe by a group that wanted Euro diesels to be as clean as US diesels. So they did road testing of Euro diesels and then came to the US to test the diesels here so they could go back home and say why are our diesels so dirty when they are much cleaner in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      honor among thieves

    • 0 avatar
      Eric M

      I have a friend who works in the small boat industry. They have suspected for several years that VW’s diesels were cheating. The comment made to me was “How in the world are those engines passing federal highway emissions?”. We now know the answer.

  • avatar

    Das noose tightens a bit more…

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