- Thomson Reuters
Audi has been one of the success stories of the auto industry in recent years, as the VW Group has established it as a youthful luxury brand alternative to BMW and Mercedes, especially in the US.
“Development chief Stefan Knirsch left the manufacturer with immediate effect this week after a probe showed he was aware of the manipulation when he took the job less than 10 months ago,” they wrote.
“A company veteran who started in Audi’s engine design unit in 1990, Knirsch was picked by Audi Chief Rupert Stadler to succeed Ulrich Hackenberg, who was pushed out in the first round of management purges after the scandal broke a year ago.”
As Rauwald and Thomas noted, Audi’s role in the scandal hasn’t been as significant as the VW brand’s. The mass-market nameplate saw 500,000 US vehicles implicated, for “defeat devices” installed on small diesel engines. Audi, however, was drawn into the scandal when it was learned that 85,000 vehicles with larger diesel engines were running the violating software, Bloomberg reported.
Overall, the deepening problems at Audi shouldn’t undermine the brand’s fortunes in the US, where most of the vehicles sold aren’t diesels.
Additionally, Audi has one of the most competitive SUV lineups in the luxury market, going head to head with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Acura at a time when SUV sales in the US are booming.