Audi Chief Knew About Defeat Device, Say Witnesses, as Automaker Suspends Tech Boss

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
audi chief knew about defeat device say witnesses as automaker suspends tech boss

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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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Sep 20, 2016

    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.

    • See 4 previous
    • Eric M Eric M on Sep 21, 2016

      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.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Sep 20, 2016

    Das noose tightens a bit more...

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.