Audi chairman Bram Schot has publicly apologised for the company’s involvement in the “dieselgate” scandal that saw 11 million Volkswagen and Audi cars caught out cheating emissions regulations in the US and Europe – and has vowed that it will never happen again.
It is the first time senior Audi management have emphatically apologised for the actions that saw certain models in its diesel range pass strict laboratory tests but belch out much higher emissions in real-world driving conditions.
“Believe me, it was a shock to all of us when our CEO (Rupert Stadler) was arrested,” Mr Schot told global media via a televised conference from Germany. “We all agree here at Audi that something like the diesel crisis should never have happened. And it will never ever happen again. And I say this very clearly, never again.”
“Above all, we have learned from our mistakes,” he said. “As a company, we are aware of our responsibility and have taken appropriate measures.”
For example, he said, Audi has “separated certification from technical development, strengthened the multiple-person check principle, and tightened documentation requirements”.
Audi said that in the US it has “retrofitted” or taken back more than 85 percent of the diesel cars affected there.
“We will continue to process the remaining cases systematically,” said Mr Schot, who added that the company was “clearly committed to the Paris climate targets – in particular the two-degree target”.
“It is precisely because of the diesel crisis that we now want to tackle this topic consistently. It is an absolute necessity for future success. Acceptance and relevance of our brand depend on it. Integrity is at the top of the list: ethically and legally impeccable conduct,” he said.
In the same speech Audi said it planned to have 30 hybrid and electric models across its range by 2025, more than it had previously forecast.
Audi paid 1.2 billion Euros in fines related to the Dieselgate scandal last year. Therefore, the company said, “operating profit amounted to 3.5 billion euros, almost 25 percent lower than in 2017”.
In Australia, approximately 16,000 Audi cars joined close to 90,000 Volkswagen and Skoda cars recalled for diesel emissions issues in 2015. CarAdvice understands the majority of vehicles have been rectified but some remain outstanding.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling