Where Did The Dieselgate Affair Have Its Foundations?
There’s an old poem that includes the phrase “Oh what a tangled web we weave…” It ends with the word deceive. And, given the information that has surfaced this weekend about the Dieselgate scandal, it seems that this old bromide has special significance.
Months ago, just after the scandal broke in September 2015, fingers were pointing everywhere. Each day, there seemed to be more evidence that one senior Volkswagen Group manager or another knew about the scandal. But, how deeply were they involved? Fairly quickly, Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive of the automaker, was dismissed and other managers suspended. Eventually, even Michael Horn, chief exec of the American branch of the automaker, was given the gate. His successor was Hinrich Woebcken. Mattias Mueller replaced Winterkorn. One key executive who has escaped the fray has been Audi’s Teflon®-coated chief exec Rupert Stadler. Reports indicate that his non-stick coating may be cracking. A story in Monday’s Der Spiegel Magazine, quoting an engineer on trial, lays the whole Dieselgate affair on his desk.
A Smoking PowerPoint?
Spiegel says it has the smoking presentation that proves that the real force behind the diesel deception was Audi. Said the magazine, it feels it has the information that “Audi has planned Dieselgate cheating with military precision.”
The magazine has an internal presentation, dating to 2007, that lays out a blueprint of how to fool U.S. regulators. And, an attorney for the suspended VW engine developer, told a German court that Stadler was familiar with the plans. Further, the magazine states some of those teams working on what is called a military-grade cheat reportedly checked in with Stadler.
Meantime, the attorney for the suspended engineer showed there was apparently a significant amount of pushback over the plan. Reports documenting meetings and presentations that illustrated the work of several high-level Audi working groups revealed that there was a lot of infighting over the defeat devices, a steady back-and-forth between engineers and Audi marketers.
Stadler, interrogated by the law firm conducting an internal investigation for the automaker, Jones Day, emphasized his innocence. The interview quickly leaked.
Finger-pointing Within VW
Early on in the scandal, VW insiders were pointing at Stadler as the next executive who was on the way out. His likely replacement, said those reports, was to be Dietmar Voggenreiter, Audi sales chief.
Sources at Volkswagen told a Forbes Magazine correspondent that there had been a fierce rivalry between Mueller and Stadler. The only reason, according to a piece on the issue, that Stadler has remained at the helm of Audi is that he is “under the protection of Volkswagen patriarch Ferdinand Piech.” Another story, this one in Handelsblatt, backed up the Der Spiegel report. Handelsblatt said that Audi was the hothouse where the seeds of the technology were planted and grew 17 years ago.
Source: Forbes Magazine