The tentacles of the so called Dieselgate emission cheating scandal that has engulfed the VW Group continue to extend further into Porsche. In late April, German prosecutors raided a number of sites associated with Porsche including the homes of Porsche employees. Later in the month, Porsche’s head of powertrain development, Jörg Kerner was reportedly arrested. Meanwhile, Porsche’s former R&D boss and the man many call the father of the 918 Spyder, Wolfgang Hatz, has remained in custody since September last year having been arrested in the wake of Dieselgate.
PORSCHE IN ‘DIESELGATE’ RAIDS AND ARRESTS
In the early days of the scandal, it seemed Porsche might avoid direct implication. After all, Porsche does not develop or manufacture diesel engines of its own but rather sources them from elsewhere within the VW empire. However, investigators are said to now suspect that Porsche knowingly fitted engines equipped with devices to defeat emissions tests to their cars.
In an email to staff, Porsche’s top executive, Oliver Blume, confirmed that an arrest had been made but denied allegations of wrongdoing. “Investigations have been against a member of the executive board, a senior and former employee of Porsche, who now works at Audi, by the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office. The senior staff member was taken into custody,” Blume wrote. “Porsche does not develop or produce any diesel engines or diesel software. The prosecution alleges that the three suspects and Porsche were aware illegal software had been installed in engines. We reject this accusation and will do our utmost to bring clarity to this matter.”
The backdrop to all this, of course, involves goings on at parent company VW. The man at the helm of the Group proper at the time the scandal broke, Martin Winterkorn, was made the subject of criminal charges in the US in early May. Winterkorn, 70, faces four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and violating the Clean Air Act. Exactly where the scandal will end is anyone’s guess. Some analysts note the close relationship between VW and the German goverment and speculate that this may prevent the full extent of the illegal activities from emerging. The State of Lower Saxony, a German region, owns a large stake in VW including 20% of the voting rights.
But with the arrests and raids gathering pace, it seems unlikely that Porsche itself will emerge from the scandal entirely unscathed.
Porsche is struggling to detach itself from association with the Dieselgate scandal and no longer produces any diesel cars, like the Panamera, pictured