Audi has halted delivery of certain diesel models for potential emissions problems, raising new questions about the Volkswagen unit in the ongoing Dieselgate probe. The suspension of deliveries of the A6 and A7 models with a V6 diesel motor could lead to a mandatory recall of those vehicles already on the road.
It could also spell the end for embattled chief executive Rupert Stadler. Although he is not the target of a criminal investigation like former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, Mr. Stadler has not been able to shake the consequences of the emissions-cheating scandal. He planned to announce details of the automaker’s restructuring at the annual meeting Wednesday and now must deal with this new development.
According to Spiegel, which first reported the delivery suspension, the V6 engines with output more than 200 kilowatts (270 horsepower) rely on the reagent AdBlue to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions. However, Audi engineers have regulated the flow of AdBlue to drastically restrict it if necessary ahead of servicing, allowing excessive quantities of the toxic gas into the air. The problem could affect 60,000 Audi vehicles, including 30,000 in Germany.
Audi is still wrestling with Dieselgate issues more than two years after the emissions-cheating scandal broke for parent VW. Munich prosecutors raided Audi headquarters and development offices once again in February. Audi reported the new issue to Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority and said it would offer a software fix. The Munich prosecutor’s office, however, said their criminal investigation would be broadened to include these vehicles.
The Munich probe has targeted 18 current and former employees at Audi, including two former executive board members. Audi is suspected of being at the origin of developing the emissions-cheating software that reduced emissions during tests but then switched off to allow higher amounts of toxic gases on the road.
Audi’s CEO, meanwhile, is bound to face new scrutiny. Mr. Stadler has repeatedly declared that Audi had wrapped up its Dieselgate problems, only to have new issues come to the surface. Late last year, he said the automaker would shut down its internal probe by the end of the first quarter this year. Instead, he will face new grilling from shareholders and new doubts about his future.
Markus Fasse is a Handelsblatt correspondent in Munich. Darrell Delamaide adapted this story into English for Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.