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Volkswagen Group Top Engineer Hackenburg Resigns Amid Dieselgate Fallout

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On: Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 3:00PM | By: Carl Malek

Volkswagen Group Top Engineer Hackenburg Resigns Amid Dieselgate Fallout

Volkswagen's investigation into dieselgate has kicked into high gear and the effort has claimed its first high ranking casualty with the resignation of Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. Hackenberg was a member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG with responsibility for Audi's Technical Development; he was also responsible for technical development of all of the Volkswagen Group's brands.

Hackenberg and two other engineering executives were already suspended for their alleged role in dieselgate. This follows on the heels of a statement released by Volkswagen that claimed no evidence was found linking Hackenberg to the scandal. Hackenberg's name arose in the early days of the fiasco since he was in a position to either know about what subordinate engineers were doing in regards to the defeat devices, or stop the illegal items from being released into the automotive market.

It is unknown if the broader investigation has linked any other higher ranking executives to crucial decisions that allowed millions of automobiles to be shipped to the U.S. and other parts of the world with the defeat devices. A report released by the New York Times stated that Hackenberg's resignation was not due to dieselgate directly, but could have possibly been a part of pressure imposed by VW's labor leaders which have a degree of voting power on the supervisory board.

At least nine employees have already been suspended in the wake of the investigation, with Hackenberg and former CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn being the only two high-ranking management members to formally resign as a result of the crisis. Volkswagen claims that the devices were a creation of lower-level employees who subsequently installed them in the cars. However, critics have pounced on this explanation claiming that some managers must have been aware of the covert installations, especially for the sheer number of cars involved as well as how long the process went on before it was detected by independent researchers. Volkswagen, for its part, has not released the full details of its internal investigation, but has urged the need for patience as it works on a solution to bring the affected vehicles into compliance—the task of holding individuals responsible seems to be a second priority.

Despite the rather unfortunate circumstances that led to Hackenberg's exit, Audi released a statement praising Hackenberg for the notable impact he had on technical development with the veteran engineer being credited as a driving force behind its current modular platform architecture. "The highly flexible modular system resulted in flexible modular production. Both systems helped us to produce very efficiently with high quality," stated Audi chief Rupert Stadler. "Numerous car models from Audi, Volkswagen, and Bentley were significantly affected by his commitment and expertise."


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