Volkswagen's former head of diesel engine development has been suspended following the results of an internal investigation, according to reports
15 October 2015

The man who was in charge of Volkswagen's diesel engine development during the time of the company's emissions scandal has been suspended, according to reports.

Falko Rudolph, who was VW's head of diesel engine development at the firm's Kassel plant between 2006 and 2010, has reportedly been suspended following the results of an internal investigation, according to news agency Reuters. 

Formal investigation

Volkswagen is holding an internal investigation into the source of the emissions scandal which has engulfed the company. This latest news comes after German prosecutors announced they would be opening a formal investigation into former Volkswagen Group boss Martin Winterkorn.

The prosecutor’s office in Germany said that Winterkorn is being investigated over “allegations of fraud in the sale of cars with manipulated emissions data.”

In Germany, anyone can file a complaint with the prosecutors, and several were filed as a result of the emissions scandal last week. The prosecutors then decide whether to open a formal investigation, which has now happened.

Executives on leave

Several VW executives are also reported to be on official leave from the company, with Audi R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg, VW R&D chief Heinz Jakob Neusser and Porsche board member Wolfgang Hatz all said to be suspended - although this has yet to be confirmed.

Hackenberg is a long-time board member of the VW Group, and has had responsiblity for development for the Group as a whole and, more recently, Audi. Hatz is the VW Group's head of engines and transmissions, as well as being the research and development boss of Porsche. None of the three has been formally connected with an active role in the scandal, however.

Following chairman and CEO Martin Winterkorn's departure, the board of executives that governs Volkswagen AG had suggested that he wouldn't be the last top-line employee to leave his post as a result of the emissions testing scandal. A statement read: "With the information currently available the supervisory board recommended the immediate suspension of some employees. This process is already underway."

VW departures

Already Christian Klinger, the VW Group's boss of sales and marketing and after-sales has left the firm "due to differences with regard to business strategy". VW confirmed Klinger's departure was unrelated to the emissions scandal. Former Skoda boss Winfried Vahland has also left the firm, and won't be taking up his new role as VW's US chief.

The VW Group executive committee has stated that it could pursue criminal proceedings against those found to be responsible for the manipulation. It will voluntarily submit a complaint to the State Prosecutors’ office and offer full support for any subsequent investigation.

Winterkorn's resignation

Winterkorn announced his resignation in the wake of the scandal about a software cheat in American NOx emissions tests. The 68-year-old executive, who fought off Ferdinand Piech in a power struggle earlier this year, had been expected to have a fresh contract extension ratified by VW’s supervisory board this week.

An official statement from Winterkorn said: "I am clearing the way for a fresh start. I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.

“As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.

“Volkswagen needs a fresh start - also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.

“I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life.

“The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis.”

The VW Group's interim chairman Berthold Huber said: "Mr Winterkorn has worked hard for VW and we would like to thank him for his efforts over the past 10 years, and also for his willingness to take responsibility in this most difficult of situations."

Read more on the Volkswagen emissions scandal:

Six things the firm could cut

No mandatory recall for UK cars

Blog - navel gazing at Volkswagen

Blog - Keeping up with pollution laws is not always easy for car makers

Blog - How Volkswagen can survive its emissions scandal

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Comments
14

23 September 2015
They've known about this since 2014 and were still carrying on as normal until this week and about to extend Winterkorn's contract. Something doesn't add up.

23 September 2015
Straff wrote:

They've known about this since 2014 and were still carrying on as normal until this week and about to extend Winterkorn's contract. Something doesn't add up.

Well, questions were being asked in 2014, but senior people in the company would have known about this practice for a long time before that. So perhaps they were going to renew his contract because it was just "business as usual" and they thought they were going to get away with it?

23 September 2015
They've known about this since 2014 and were still carrying on as normal until this week and about to extend Winterkorn's contract. Something doesn't add up.

23 September 2015
Funny thing is that at the bottom of it are a few humble computer programmers on an average salary. It was only a matter of time before one of the IT crowd, the testers, analysts, middle manager etc got the hump/ redundancy and spilled the beans to a company that could investigate. ** disclaimer:- The aforementioned is just a thought and in no way represents Autocar's ideas blah blah blah**

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

23 September 2015
It's not rare for the CEO to step down when a big problem of this magnitude comes up. However, it seems a little harsh he's had to step down so soon after starting in the role. I am not sure if the engine in question is still used in current models as from looking on the net it seems that it's a legacy engine in the UK which has now been superceded? If so then this would point back to Piech's reign and thus is unfair on Winterkorn? Ultimately though VW kmow this will have a huge impact financially and on their reputation so I guess he was screwed as soon as the news came out...

289

23 September 2015
At the risk of starting a conspiracy theory....would FP be mad enough to have kicked off all this with the German institute of ICCT in Berlin - including risking short term value wiped from VW shares, just get his way in ousting Winterkorn?

24 September 2015
FP could have made as much as Soros (Pound devaluation), if he had manipulated this scandal!

If FP goes shopping for a bigger multi-million yacht, or a wide bodied jet that would be an indicator that he has not lost out this week.

In the absence of any conspiracy, Mr. Piech will be a very unhappy man this week.

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

23 September 2015
I think this is the thin end of the wedge - the whole way that cars are tested to produce official consumption figures, etc, is questionable, eg moving wing mirrors to reduce drag.

Is this really so much more serious than how Hyundai/Kia got found out for declaring exaggerated fuel consumption figures in the States recently?

I guess that puts the kybosh on VW/Audi's entry into F1 as predicted by Eddie Jordan - they'll need to save a bit of cash to pay for all this.

Let's get more facts - which engines are involved and in which models/VAG brands?

Is Adblue/urea really used in cars and isn't it about time a better solution was found for what is fundamentally a very efficient engine design/concept?

23 September 2015
After the revelations this was foregone conclusion. At some point he would have been told but probably not before the EPA probe was started. However, that would mean he was still likely aware of this for over a year and provided official denials and excuses for that amount of time. In that sense he is the Richard Nixon of the auto world; it was the cover up the got him though he likely would have been on the hook had he 'fessed up from the beginning.

23 September 2015
Is VW responsible for the air in our cities being so dirty lately? Even at an average 15 times dirtier sums to: number of VW cars (VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda using those engines) times 15. And if the 11 miljon affected cars is true, it means 165 million (11x15=165) virtual cars are polluting our cities.

Dan

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