Last month, former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confessed to his involvement in the Dieselgate scandal in order to avoid receiving a prison sentence. Today, a Munich court handed down a verdict in the case, fining Stadler for over one million euros while giving him a suspended sentence of one year and nine months.
When Stadler agreed to confess in May, he had also agreed to pay a fine that Prosecutors had wanted to be as high as 2 million euros. However, the judge determined he would only have to pay 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million at today’s exchange rate). Authorities arrested Stadler in 2018, who has been on trial since 2020 for his role in the scandal that first emerged in September 2015.
That’s when the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it had discovered that Volkswagen had violated the Clean Air Act. It wouldn’t be until November 2016 that the agency implicated Audi. The German automaker used software to circumvent US emissions tests on its diesel vehicles.
Stadler is the first Volkswagen board member sentenced for the scandal. However, other employees were also sentenced this week. Judges handed verdicts to former Audi executive Wolfgang Hatz and an engineer for their involvement, also subjecting the pair to fines and suspended sentences. Pending cases include those against former VW boss Martin Winterkorn and other former VW managers.
The scandal has also proven costly for the automaker. Volkswagen Group’s actions have led to it being fined billions in the US and other countries where it sold its defective vehicles. South Korea recently fined Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen for colluding to cheat the country’s emissions standards.
Audi is doing all it can to put the scandal behind it with its push into electric vehicles even as it lags behind the competition. VW Group CEO Oliver Blume said last week that he wants to speed up EV development for the brand, which has faced “severe software problems” and plagued more than Audi. Next year, the company will launch the Q6 E-Tron while riding on a new platform and its last combustion-powered car in 2025.