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25th Aug 2019

Audi ex-CEO on fraud charge, as diesels remain on road

  • Rupert Stadler, then CEO of Audi, at a car show in Frankfurt, 15 September 2015 - mere days before Audi's parent company Volkswagen Group admitted to having cheating on emissions tests. (Photo: AUDI AG)

German prosecutors have accused Rupert Stadler, former CEO of carmaker Audi, of fraud for his role in the diesel emissions scandal, Munich prosecutors announced on Wednesday (31 July).

Stadler had led the German company, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group (VW), from 2010, including in the period leading up to VW's confession of having cheated on the emissions test in the US.

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  • The technology VW used to equip 11m cars worldwide with emissions cheating software was developed at Audi (Photo: Colin Harris  ADE)

He remained in his post until October 2018 - four months after he had been temporarily held as a suspect.

VW had rigged some 11 million diesel cars worldwide with illegal emissions cheating software, eight million of which in the EU. They included the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda.

The cheat technique had been developed from Audi engineers.

The news comes almost four years after VW's cheating came to the limelight, and 15 weeks after former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was charged with fraud by the public prosecutor in Braunschweig.

Last year, the then Audi CEO was arrested out of fear he would interfere with the investigation into the diesel emissions fraud.

The company received a €800m fine over the scandal in Germany.

Meanwhile, the German car companies have not dealt with all of the cars equipped with the illegal software.

One in five cars has still not received the software update, despite promises to the EU that it would be done by the autumn of 2017.

The situation varies greatly between EU member states, because recalls are not mandatory everywhere.

Germany vs eastern Europe

While Germany has a recall and update percentage of 99 percent, less than half of the affected vehicles have been updated in Croatia (46 percent), Poland (45 percent), and Romania (37 percent).

Another thirteen EU member states have recall percentages below 75 percent. Of those, France (74 percent) is the only country where the recall is mandatory.

EU-wide there are still around 1.5m VW cars driving around with the cheat software.

Even then, the ones that have been treated do not perform much better in terms of pollution.

VW was also not unique: other carmakers also sold diesel cars that were much dirtier in actual use than during the official laboratory test.

According to campaign group Transport & Environment, there are some 43m dirty diesel cars and vans still on the road.

"The current snail's pace to clean up diesel cars across Europe is unacceptable," the group said in a statement last May.

"The industry has had almost four years since the diesel scandal broke but has failed to deliver even on its own commitments to fix manipulated cars. It's time for governments to get tough and order mandatory recalls across the EU. This does not require any new laws but just political will."

Germany's solution to Dieselgate: buy German cars

German owners of dirty diesel cars have received a letter from an official government body suggesting they buy a new car. But the promoted websites are all for German companies.

Investigation

VW to EU: We will fail on recall promise

German carmaker told EU commission in a private meeting it expected only 75 percent of cars will be fixed by the end of 2017.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

Interview

Dieselgate disappointed car-loving commissioner

Industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska often finds herself on opposite sides to the car industry, referring to diesel engines as the "technology of the past".

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