Report: More than 30 managers involved in #dieselgate, more heads likely to roll

VW Execs - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Volkswagen’s cheater software was not the work of a couple of rogue engineers, as claimed by Volkswagen U.S. CEO Michael Horn. According to a report by German’s Spiegel magazine, and confirmed by a Dailykanban source in Wolfsburg, “at least 30 managers” at Volkswagen were involved. They are about to be suspended, some possibly already have been.

The managers have been identified as part of the investigation by the U.S. law firm Jones Day and Volkswagen’s internal “Revision,” says the report. Many times since its start of production in 2008, the EA 189 engine has been checked for compliance with emission rules in numerous markets of the world. That the engine was in compliance without the expensive emission treatment needed by other manufacturers “should have raised the suspicion of any engine engineer,” a Volkswagen manager told Der Spiegel.

It also should have raised eyebrows at suppliers, and there are indications that some suppliers tried to cash in on the trickery. “Suppliers tried very hard selling us the smaller and cheaper diesel cats that worked so well for VW,” a manager of a large Japanese automaker tells me. “Our engineers refused them as not fit for the task.”

Volkswagen’s PR dept. first refused to comment. Later in the day, it called the  numbers of involved reported by Spiegel “unfounded,” or “inflated,” depending on who called.

In a surprise announcement, designated North America chief Winfried Vahland is leaving the company, Reuters says. This was likewise confirmed by Volkswagen’s hallway radio, and later followed by a statement by Vahland’s current employer, Skoda. Vahland, who was instrumental in Volkswagen’s success in China, and who did a superb job as chief of Skoda, was picked to run Volkaswagen’s North American market. Supposedly, he is leaving VW on his own volition over “differences of opinion over the company’s organization of its North American business.” In the business, “differences over strategic direction” are a euphemism for serious trouble. Knowing Vahland, he did not throw-in the towel over a few boxes in the orgchart.

The shoes are dropping one day before VW CEO Matthias Mueller congregates more than 1,000 Volkswagen managers in Leipzig to talk about the state of the investigations, and Volkswagen’s future. He is expected to announce drastic cuts to save cash. Managers will watch for people not attending.

Based on talks with Volkswagen sources and on personal experience, the Dailykanban has maintained since day one of the scandal that the trickery was widely known at Volkswagen, and that the headaches will grow in intensity.