By on January 18, 2019

Four men tasked with developing a very dirty diesel engine for use in Audi vehicles have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury. The four, including the head of Audi’s Diesel Engine Development department, face charges of wire fraud, violation of the Clean Air Act, and conspiracy, all stemming from the development of an engine that didn’t have a chance of being certified in the U.S.

And, because they’re believed to be living in Germany, they’d best leave the U.S. off their list of vacation destinations.

The news came Thursday by way of Reuters. Facing charges (and arrest, should they ever land on U.S. soil) are managers Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan Knirsch, and Carsten Nagel. Bauder was the group’s head.

Together, the men developed a 3.0-liter diesel V6 with an AdBlue tank too small to treat the exhaust emissions of a vehicle Audi hoped would go 10,000 miles between refills. It couldn’t, necessitating the use of an undeclared auxiliary emissions control device (defeat device) that would fool U.S. environmental regulators into believing the vehicle ran clean at all times. In actuality, the vehicle would only run clean and within the law while undergoing EPA testing.

According to the indictment, the men found themselves caught between Audi’s desire “for a large trunk and high-end sound system” and the need to satisfy regulators. Told by engineers that “Audi had to cheat to pass U.S. emissions tests,” the managers went to the dark side, installing a smaller AdBlue tank and equipping the engine with illicit software.

The same type of device was used with the automotive group’s 2.0-liter Volkswagen diesels. Eventually, the larger engine came to U.S. shores beneath the hood of the Audi Q7, Q5, A6, A7, A8, and VW Touareg models spanning the 2009 to 2015 model years.

The house of cards built in that engine shop came crashing down in September 2015 following independent U.S. testing at the urging of the International Council on Clean Transportation.

For a deep dive into the indictment, check out this piece in The Verge, in which it is revealed that a supervisor at Audi’s testing department attempted to head off disaster by confronting the men. Despite protests from engineers and others, the plan went ahead, even after it was surmised that the U.S. wouldn’t have much trouble catching them in the act.

With these latest indictments, the number of Volkswagen Group employees charged by U.S. authorities stands at 13. That group includes former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, who remains in Germany. Ex Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, arrested last year in Germany, is not among them.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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4 Comments on “U.S. Indicts Four Audi Managers for Diesel Deception...”

  • avatar

    Storm the beaches.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t appear that many car buyers care about this.

    • 0 avatar

      Potential car buyers might not, but I assure you plenty of TDI owners do. A former Touareg owner myself, I was held hostage to my car while awaiting the settlement then the repair, only to be left with a vehicle that drove far different than the car I purchased. Unable to live with the effects of the “fix”, I unloaded it onto to one of the few dealers who would accept it in trade. Even with the court-mandated mea culpa cash, it was a bad deal all around.

  • avatar

    I wonder where that lone testing supervisor at Audi who dared speak up is buried career-wise. That managerial response is emblematic of top-down hierarchy companies.

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