Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi’s chief engineer, and Wolfgang Hatz, the developer of Porsche’s winning Formula One racing engines, were put in charge of research and development at VW shortly after Martin Winterkorn left Audi to became CEO of VW in January 2007.
Winterkorn set a sales goal of selling 10 million vehicles per year by 2018. VW achieved that goal last year, when one out of four cars sold in Europe were made by VW — but they struggled to meet sales goals in the United States, where air-quality standards are higher than in Europe.
In 2007, after Winterkorn became CEO, he abandoned a clean-burning diesel engine prototype licensed from Daimler because many engineers believed it wouldn’t be clean enough to meet U.S. emissions standards.
Winterkorn assigned Hackenberg and Hatz to create “turbocharged direct injection” (TDI) diesel engine. Emissions-cheating software is believed to have been installed on the EA 189 engine sometime before it went into production in 2008.
Hackenberg and Hatz were among the engineers suspended when the scandal went public last month. Winterkorn has also resigned as CEO. The U.S. Department of Justice said it intends to prosecute more individuals for corporate wrongdoing, and it is possible the men could face jail time.
According to VW:
“Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you. We’ve totally screwed up.”