Volkswagen Ag has acknowledged last month it had used illegal software in its diesel powered cars to fool US regulators when performing emissions tests and then also admitted to installing the defeat device in 11 million autos sold worldwide.
The engrossing scandal, which has triggered the largest crisis in the 78-year old company, forcing out its long running CEO Martin Winterkorn now threatens to end in a blood bath an otherwise distinguished career of a German engineering titan – Audi product development chief Ulrich Hackenberg. He is a company veteran, involved in the Group’s product plans for more than 25 years, with the 65-year-old German now suspended because of an investigation that also targets him for potential involvement in the scandalous cheating affair. VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn was a close friend of the top engineer – nicknamed “Hacki” – as both understood each other thanks to the common background of math and science. If Hackenberg also leaves the group, VW stands to lose the person that has introduced the revolutionary platform strategy involving flexible architectures – such as the MQB.
The modular toolkits are the reason why brands such as Skoda have been so successful – scalable modules and common interfaces would lend cost advantage by using across the brands and also segments. “Hackenberg is enormously important for Volkswagen,” comments Stefan Bratzel, chief of auto research at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “He’s the father of the modular toolkit strategy.” According to various reports, Heinz-Jakob Neusser and Wolfgang Hatz, the VW brand development head and Porsche chief engineer, respectively, have also been suspended as part of the internal probe.
Via Automotive News Europe