Audi technical development boss Stefan Knirsch is set to be suspended over the ongoing investigation into the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal, according to Ingolstadt’s local newspaper Donaukurier.
Knirsch’s alleged suspension comes off the back of an investigation into the scandal by US law firm Jones Day. The investigation has allegedly revealed that the Audi board member is facing the end of his career at Audi, accusing him of being aware of manipulations to the emissions of 3.0-litre diesel engines long before it was revealed in September last year.
Audi has previously confirmed that its 3.0-litre V6 diesel unit was in fact fitted with emission-controlling software, which is illegal in the US where the scandal was initially uncovered. Volkswagen has previously said the cheat software was the work of some rogue engineers, but that claim has now come into question.
The publication stated that a meeting of Audi’s supervisory board (which approves the appointment or sacking of official board members) took place last Thursday, with the board allegedly being told that Knirsch was aware of the software.
Knirsch has reportedly already been asked to clear his desk after only nine months in the job, having succeeded previously suspended technical boss Ulrich Hackenberg. Hackenberg quit following his suspension, alongside two other executives at the centre of the scandal.
An Audi spokesman told Autocar it does "not comment on personnel speculation".
Knirsch started at Audi in 1990 after completing his studies of mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Heilbronn, then joined Porsche in 1996 as project manager for engine development. He achieved his doctorate in 2006 at the Institute for Materials Engineering at Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg and returned to Audi in 2013 as head of powertrain development. He has been a member of the board of management of Audi AG with responsibility for technical development since 1 January.