Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler’s Diesel Woes Just Deepened, Again. – Forbes

Audi Chairmain and CEO, Rupert Stadler, at last year’s stressful annual conference in Ingolstadt, Germany. Photo CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II famously called 1997 her annus horribilus after a fire at Windsor Castle and the separation of Prince Charles from Princess Diana.

Audi Chairman and CEO Rupert Stadler had an annus horribilus in 2016 after American researchers and the EPA uncovered his company’s role in the Dieselgate emissions-cheating scandal. And now he’s having another one.

The hits keep coming for Audi and for Stadler, personally. He might have signed a five-year contract extension, to the end of 2022, a month ago, but Reuters is suggesting the supervisory board only proffered the contract on the understanding that he wouldn’t serve a full term.

Stadler has defined Audi since 2010, which is about one full production cycle in the car industry, and his personal image has come to reflect how a big chunk of Audi’s customer base sees itself. He is urbane, gentlemanly, calm under pressure, handsomely dressed, covertly passionate, articulate in multiple languages and exudes class, without sacrificing the common touch. He also grew up on a farm less than half an hour’s drive from Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters, so the flagship plant’s workers also see him as looking out for them.

For all that, the Audi supervisory board might not need to worry about Stadler’s five-year arrangement if Audi’s legal tormentors keep snapping off unforeseen jabs and uppercuts like the ones that have been rocking the carmaker lately.

The latest came late last week, with the German transport department (KBA) announcing it had found a Dieselgate-style “defeat” software device on Audi’s A7 and A8 luxury models built between 2009 and 2013.

The KBA insisted 24,000 V6 and V8 diesel cars, 14,000 of which were sold in Germany, had a software cheat which understood when the car was being tested on a set of laboratory rollers by measuring how long it had been since anybody moved the steering wheel.

KBA minister Alexander Dobrint demanded Audi recall the cars, giving the firm just 10 days to come up with a fix that would make the expensive cars legal again, and Audi issued the recall that same Thursday afternoon.

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