Following a bombshell report Monday in Der Spiegel that Audi’s chief exec, Rupert Stadler, knew the details of the emissions rigging scandal as long ago as 2012, Volkswagen fired four diesel engineers. Audi chief reportedly heavily implicated in Dieselgate scandal
The dismissed engineers illustrated the breadth of the automaker’s involvement in the diesel emissions-rigging scandal. For example, said Automotive News, Ulrich Weiss, Audi’s former chief of engine development, was one of the engineers given his walking papers Monday. And, Audi discharged its former U.S. emissions chief.
Audi Confirms Dismissals
A spokesman for Audi confirmed the firing of four of its principal diesel engine development engineers. The spokesman told Automotive News Europe in no uncertain terms that the reason for the terminations was “gross breach of duty.”
Weiss, suspended after the emissions cheating scam went public in September 2015, has been on paid leave for nearly 18 months. Another of the four engineers, the former U.S. emissions chief, was only identified as Giovanni P., according to a report in the German publication Handelsblatt.
The move to dismiss Weiss came only days after the former high-level VW engineer tied Stadler to Dieselgate. Weiss has been on trial in a German labor court. He told the court that Stadler was informed as early as 2012 of the software-based defeat device at the center of the Volkswagen scandal. However, Stadler has claimed he was not aware of the diesel cheating device until the Dieselgate scandal went public in September 2015.
Weiss’ firing marks a reversal for Audi. Until this move, the automaker had maintained it could not determine where to place blame for the scandal. In court last week, Handelsblatt said, counsel for Weiss called him a pawn in the Dieselgate scandal. At that time, the Weiss defense team presented information that reportedly implicated Stadler in the heart of the scandal.
Software Cheating Device Developed in 1999
In its investigation last year, Handelsblatt placed Audi at the center of the diesel-cheating scandal. The automaker reportedly created the device, installed in up to 11 million VW turbodiesels sold worldwide, in 1999, nearly a decade before Dieselgate began.
Meantime, Der Spiegel also Monday, also contradicted Stadler’s claim that he knew nothing of the scandal until the early autumn of 2015. In a story quoted by Forbes, Spiegel said it had a “smoking presentation” that showed Stadler not only knew of the cheating device but that several engineering teams involved in the scheme reported to the Audi chief.
Sources: Automotive News Europe, Forbes, Der Spiegel, Handelsblatt