Audi Engineer Airs The So Far Dirtiest Laundry Of The Dieselgate Scandal. Stadler Soiled – Forbes

Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2017

Next in Line? Rupert Stadler next to deposed Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn (Photo: UWE ANSPACH/AFP/Getty Images)

A case brought to a German labor court could end the career of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. Testimonies place Stadler at the center of Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal. Documents presented in court describe the motive for the emission fraud: Without cheating, sales of the diesel-powered cars would have been in serious trouble. With cheating, the whole company is in serious trouble.

The scandal wasn’t brought to the attention of the courts by German prosecutors, or the American FBI. It was put on record during one of the thousands of labor court proceedings, a routine matter at German courts. Ulrich Weiß used to be head of powertrain development at Audi. Xing still lists him under “Development Diesel Engines” at Audi’s Neckarsulm location. Officially, Weiß is still an employee of Audi. He has been suspended in the wake of the dieselgate scandal. He wants his job back, his lawyer told the court. Apparently, Audi wasn’t smart enough to fit Weiß with the type of golden parachute that assured the quiet departure of higher-ups, such as Audi’s development chief Ulrich Hackenberg. Without the proper severance, the matter went to court, and Weiß’s lawyer Hans-Georg Kauffeld did not miss the chance to air the so far dirtiest laundry of the dieselgate scandal.

“When Stadler took the CEO post in Ingolstadt, the engineers were faced with a dilemma,” wrote Spiegel Magazin [German, paywall] in its weekend edition. With the help of urea, also called AdBlue, they were able to bring Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions of their cars to allowable levels. The job required a lot of urea, along with large, and hard to fit tanks. Even harder to explain to customers was that the tanks would have to be refilled often, sometimes requiring a dealer visit.

Audi engineers tested a Volkswagen Touareg, and an Audi Q7 “with frightening results,” wrote Spiegel:

“The diesel Touareg needed eight liters of urea per 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). The intended tank had only a 16-liter capacity. A Touareg driver would have to replenish AdBlue every 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles). The engineers wanted the tank to be refilled during the scheduled service visit after 10,000 kilometers (6,210 miles).”

Stadler and Winterkorn (Photo: JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Mindful of their trademarked “Vorsprung durch Technik”  slogan, Audi engineers sought “advancement through technology,” and suggested the “introduction of two operating modes.” In an “efficiency mode,” plenty AdBlue would be added to ensure an NOx removal of more than 90%, a chart presented by the engineers to their higher-ups suggested. In an “economy mode,” the NOx mitigation would be “selectable” between “30 and 70%,” and it would allow a “cap” of the required AdBlue. To switch between these two modes, the engineers suggested “cycle beating,” a by now notorious technical term that describes “the illegal technology that makes sure that the engine stays within the legal limits only when it is tested,” as Der Spiegel helpfully wrote. It continued:


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