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Audi Boots Top Engineers After One Accuses CEO of Involvement in Diesel Deception

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Audi appears to be going on the defensive and closing ranks around its CEO following a tumultuous week filled with accusations and revelations.

Late last week, the automaker fired four top engineers who worked on the brand’s diesel technology, including head of engine development Ulrich Weiss. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports that Weiss, who has been on paid leave since the diesel emissions scandal erupted, presented documents in court that appeared to show CEO Rupert Stadler had knowledge of the defeat devices as early as 2012.

Audi is now seeking charges against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations,” as well as revealing internal documents. Unfortunately for the automaker, another German media outlet has gotten its hands on an infamous PowerPoint presentation.

The automaker hasn’t said exactly who the lawsuit targets, or if it involves last week’s firings. Handelsblatt reports Audi will file the suit in its hometown of Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and could seek damages from one or more parties.

Weiss, who is suing Audi in a bid to return to work, claims the automaker targeted him to avoid taking the heat over the emissions scandal. The former engine chief’s lawyer calls him “a pawn” in a larger game.

Audi isn’t having any of this. In response to Weiss’ accusations, the automaker claimed Volkswagen Group’s internal investigation clears the company of wrongdoing.

“The Jones Day law firm has addressed this issue in extensive interviews and investigations,” the automaker stated. “As far as our company is concerned, all unanswered questions are now resolved.”

While all of this was going on, a damaging report in Germany’s Spiegel revealed portions of a 2007 PowerPoint presentation that mapped out how to deceive emissions regulators. The document proposes a urea injection system for diesel models with two operating modes. One, specifically for testing regimens, would eliminate 90 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions. The other, designed for normal driving, would see only a 30 to 70 percent emissions reduction.

The goal, apparently, was to reduce the amount of urea used so that the vehicles’ AdBlue tanks would only need refilling during scheduled service appointments. The PowerPoint singled out the 3.0-liter Volkswagen Touareg as an example. Having such a system in the U.S. market was “critical,” the document stated.

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