U.S. Indicts Four Audi Managers for Diesel Deception

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
u s indicts four audi managers for diesel deception

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]

Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Jan 18, 2019

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

    • Rocket Rocket on Jan 18, 2019

      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.

  • EGSE EGSE on Jan 18, 2019

    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.

  • MelanieRichardson GOOD
  • El scotto @jwee; Sir, a great many of us believe that Musk is somewhere (pretty high) on the spectrum and move on.I work on the fringes of IT. Most of my presentations get picked over extensively and intensely at meetings. I'm smart enough to know I'm not that smart and willingly take advice from the IT crew. I bring them Duck Doughnuts too. We also keep a box of Crayolas in the meeting room.At one meeting an IT guy got way into the details of my presentation, the meeting went long as we discussed my target audience. Same IT guy insisted it was a disaster and would fail miserable and that I was stupid. Yeah, F-boms get dropped at our meetings. I finally had enough and asked if he was such an expert, did he want to stand up in front of 30 senior executives and give the presentation? His response was a flat "NO". He got the box of Crayolas. For you non-military types that means shut up and color. Musk is the same as that IT guy, lots of gyrations but not much on follow-through. Someone just needs to hand him a box of Crayolas.
  • FreedMike The FJ Cruiser would be a better comeback candidate. The gang back at Toyota HQ must be looking at all those Broncos flying off Ford lots and kicking themselves.
  • Tassos 2015 was only 7 years ago. $58k is still a whole lot of $ to pay for a vehicle. FOrtunately one can buy a flagship vehicle with great active and passive safety for half this amount, if one does the SMART thing and buys a pre-owned luxury flagship vehicle. they have historically been SCREAMING BARGAINS. A breadvan on stilts SUV, wether the more compact Macan or the more bloated Cayenne will never pass as a Flagship Vehicle. No matter how well it drives or how reliable it suprisingly is. It still is a breadvan on stilts.
  • Sean Ohsee Bring back the 100 series and its I6 diesel.