How the Audi boss was finally emitted

How the Audi boss was finally emitted
He was arrested on Monday as part of an investigation into suspected fraud and false advertising, involving the sale of vehicles equipped with emissions cheating software.

He has spent the past few days incarcerated behind the high concrete walls of Augsburg-Gablingen prison - a far cry from Audi s majestic glass-fronted headquarters in Ingolstadt.

The Audi CEO was already known to be under scrutiny. A week before his arrest, his house was searched, by Munich prosecutors.

He was named as one of 20 people being investigated as part of their enquiry. He was detained, according to prosecutors, because of concerns about the possible obstruction of justice.

Mr Stadler has now stepped down from his posts, temporarily at least.

But what many experts are puzzled by is why - whether or not he has actually done anything wrong - he was still in those posts at all.

Image caption Audi is the Volkswagen Group s most profitable brand

Rupert Stadler is VW Group royalty.

He has been in charge of Audi since 2007, and has sat on the main group board since 2010. Last year his contract was extended for five years - up to the end of 2022.

That surprised many observers. Audi was heavily implicated in the diesel emissions scandal, which first came to light in September 2015.

According to a statement agreed by VW with US prosecutors as part of a settlement last year, it was Audi engineers who first came up with the so-called "defeat device".

This was software which put cars into a special test mode, enabling them to pass stringent US emissions tests, despite producing high levels of pollution when used on the road.

It was later found to have been fitted to millions of cars around the world.

Audi also designed and built 3 litre engines used by brands throughout the VW Group, which were later shown to be using the illegal software.

When the wrongdoing came to light, the VW Group chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, lost his job. Since then many more executives and senior engineers have left.

The company has thoroughly overhauled its management - and even Mr Winterkorn s successor, Matthias Mueller, was recently moved on.

Yet until this week, Rupert Stadler remained firmly in his post.

Image caption Policemen searched the Ingolstadt headquarters of the German car manufacturer on February 6, 2018

Last year, the company offered to install new engine software on 850,000 cars to reduce their emissions. In May it recalled a further 60,000 after discovering "irregularities" in their emissions controls.

Even the news that Mr Stadler s house had been raided by prosecutors investigating the emissions scandal did not appear to set alarm bells ringing.

"It certainly raises questions about governance at Volkswagen and Audi", says Arndt Ellinghorst, automotive analyst at Evercore ISI.
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