Germany's ADAC Scandal Officially Calls BS on Award Programs
Germany's ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V.) is kind of the equivalent to North America's AAA, but that significantly understates its power and influence. Now, ADAC is embroiled in a vote-rigging controversy that has resulted in the resignation of leaders, and the return of awards from several OEMs. Every year, ADAC awards its "Yellow Angel" award to cars in a number of categories, based on what was supposed to be member votes cast for Germany's "Favorite Car."
This year, 34,299 German motorists were supposed to have voted for the Volkswagen Golf as the favorite car winner. But when auditor Deloitte looked into the votes, it appeared that fewer than 10% of that number actually cast ballots.
One would normally need to visit Florida to achieve that level of vote fraud.
PHOTOS: Full Galleries of the 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The result is that ADAC's president, Peter Mayer, resigned ahead of the results of the audit, and the organization is being investigated by the German justice department. Results of awards as far back as 2005 are being investigated.
The alleged rigging resulted in favoritism for some brands, and left others out in the cold. For example, according to Deloitte's audit, the BMW 3 Series should've been a runner-up to the Golf, but didn't even appear in the top five.
PHOTOS: Full Galleries of the 2013 BMW 3 Series Touring
This might all sound like a tempest in a teapot here, where ad dollars result in awards from some of the most influential magazines in the country, but it's hard for Americans to understand just how integral ADAC is in a German's motoring life.
19 million Germans are members of the organization. That's almost a fifth of all license holders in Germany.
Like AAA, ADAC provides road service to stranded motorists, but unlike AAA, it doesn't contract those services to anybody with a tow truck: It outfits thousands of yell0w-painted trucks and vans as rolling workshops, executing simple repairs by the roadside. It also has a fleet of 44 air-ambulance helicopters, strategically located so that they can reach any point in Germany in just 15 minutes. A fleet of jets also allow ADAC "Plus" members to be plucked from any location worldwide in the event of accident or sickness.
ADAC is a member of the FIA, and has long hosted some of Germany's most prestigious racing events, such as the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the European Grand Prix and many other racing events.
Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have all returned their awards as a result of the scandal, and deeper investigation is in the works.
Image Source: Wikipedia, Finance.Yahoo.com