In the U.S., Volkswagen's Dieselgate drama has been largely resolved, but in Germany, the plot is thickening as a formal investigation uncovers more details about the company's wrongdoing. Most recently, a former Audi engineer has confessed that top Volkswagen officials knew about the company's emissions cheating scam long before it made headlines in 2015.
That engineer is Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio, who once headed the thermodynamics division for engine development at Audi. According to his lawyer, Walter Lechner, Pamio told investigators that Audi's top brass knew that the brand's diesels couldn't meet U.S. and European standards because they couldn't carry enough urea to neutralize emissions.
Pamio also said that managers knew about Audi's solution to the problem: developing software that allowed diesels to cheat on emissions tests. That software reduced emissions while vehicles were being tested, then disabled controls once cars hit the road.
Pamio says that the managers first learned of the illegal fix in 2006, nine years before the defeat devices became a public scandal. (FWIW, previous reports have indicated that Audi engineers developed the software in 1999.) He's provided emails and other documents to corroborate his claim.
Interestingly, Pamio hasn't identified the managers that allegedly knew about the issue, though now-deposed Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, was Audi's head honcho at the time. Volkswagen's current CEO, Matthias Muller, was Audi's head of product development.
If Pamio's statements prove true, it would be a shocking development--one that could renew public criticism of the automaker and cause untold damage to its ongoing charm offensive to win back the trust of consumers. Volkswagen and its Audi unit have declined to comment.