Audi's R&D Head, Porsche Engine Chief May Get Forced Out In VW Diesel Scandal: Report

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: More Heads May Roll

Germany’s well-sourced Bild newspaper reports that Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn’s resignation is just the start. They say that at the company’s board meeting on Friday, Audi’s R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg, Porsche’s head of engines Wolfgang Hatz, VW Chief Development Officer Heinz-Jakob Neusser and U.S. CEO Michael Horn will all be forced to resign. Holy shit.


These are some major names in the world of cars, and some of the most important figures behind the VW Group’s engineering. This report is unconfirmed for now, but if it ends up being true it appears the board is cleaning house of anyone who might have known about the emissions cheating — or could be subpoena’d over it.

2nd Gear: Who Will Be The New VW CEO?

With Winterkorn out, there’s a vacuum at VW that needs to be filled. Here’s Bloomberg on who could fill that post:

Possible successors include Porsche unit chief Matthias Mueller, who is backed by members of the family that controls a majority stake in Volkswagen, and Herbert Diess, a former BMW AG executive who took over the newly created post of VW brand chief this year, a person familiar with the matter said.

The new CEO will take charge as VW seeks to regain the trust of consumers and rebuild a brand tarnished by scandal. The company’s admission that millions of its “clean diesel” cars have software intended to defeat emissions tests wiped nearly 20 billion euros ($22.4 billion) off its market capitalization earlier this week. The shares gained on Thursday.

Of course, if BMW ends up getting embroiled in a diesel scandal itself, that could make Diess — a newcomer to an already very insular company — an issue.

3rd Gear: A Dim Outlook For Diesel

France and the UK have been cracking down on diesel in recent years well before the VW scandal broke, and automakers in the U.S. struggled (obviously) to meet the strictest diesel emissions standards in the world. Now, on the heels of Dieselgate, the fuel’s future for passenger cars seems more dismal than ever.


There’s other factors at work here too, reports Reuters:

Unforeseen changes in fuel consumption in the world’s fastest growing economies such as China, combined with a global economic slowdown and the rapid evolution of gasoline engines, have left the world with an excess of diesel just as huge state-of-the-art refineries switch on.

The crisis at VW has turned the spotlight on concerns that have gathered momentum in recent years — particularly in Europe where diesel is the more common car fuel — about air pollutants it produces and its credibility as a cleaner alternative to gasoline that cloud prospects for diesel carmakers.

“The focus was on low carbon emissions,” said Chris Main, a commodities analyst with Citi in London. “One thing that wasn’t seen was that you’d get other pollutants - such as nitrogen. People are starting to become more wary of diesel.”


4th Gear: Tokyo’s Cab Fleet Goes LPG Hybrid

Speaking of cars going green, here’s what’s happening in Japan soon, via Bloomberg:

Tokyo’s taxi companies will shift as much as 30 percent of their fleets to an LPG-powered hybrid from Toyota Motor Corp. by 2020, raising the bar for the world’s biggest cities in their bids to reduce emissions from cabs.

The companies will begin buying Toyota’s JPN Taxi hybrid from 2018, in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games two years later, according to Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of the Tokyo Hire-Taxi Association, which represents the city’s cab firms and helps sets industry standards. The wheelchair-friendly car will be more fuel efficient and cleaner than the Prius and sell for about 3 million yen ($24,950), he estimated.


5th Gear: Silverado Gets Some Updates

As Ford debuts the new aluminum-bodied 2017 Super Duty trucks, Chevrolet is in Dallas showing off the refreshed 2016 Silverado with some new features. Via The Detroit News:

New safety features are available on the 2016 Silverado, including forward-collision alert and lane keep assist. The trucks support Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.

New headlamps, grille, hood and taillights are among the changes; the truck’s headlights now integrated into the grille, and turn signals and brake lights wrap around the truck’s corners. A remote locking tailgate also will be offered.

Each Silverado trim level gets a unique look. The LT and LTZ models get a chrome grille and bumper. Some trims get additional and LED lighting. New for 2016, a eight-speed transmission that was standard on the 6.2-liter V-8 Silverado will be standard on the LTZ, LTZ/Z71 and High Country Silverados with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine.


Reverse: Happy Birthday Honda!


Neutral: How Deep Will The Resignations And Firings Go?

We appear to be looking at a major house cleaning at the world’s largest automaker. How will that go down?


Photo credit AP

Contact the author at