Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, who is currently being held in prison over parent VW Group’s diesel scandal, will likely not return to his post even if he clears his name.
“The expectation is that Stadler cannot return to his post. You have to be careful, because it’s not so easy due to German labor laws, but he needs to concentrate on his legal defense right now and clearing his name,” said a source close to VW Group’s supervisory board to Automotive News.
Stadler was taken into custody on June 18 by German authorities who suspected he was interfering with their investigation. According to German media reports, prosecutors had tapped his phone and heard Stadler talking about suspending an employee who was cooperating with them.
Prosecutors believe that Stadler committed fraud and false testimony in connection with VW’s dieselgate scandal. Bavaria’s Justice Department said that Audi’s executive will remain in jail at least until next week. Whether he is then released on bail remains unclear.
Audi has named sales chief Bram Schot as interim CEO the day after Stadler was arrested. German media report that Schot has the ambition to keep the CEO job rather than passing it to someone else.
VW insiders say that there’s a change in thinking among the top-rank executives, and after months of protecting Stadler, he’s now seen as damaged goods. “It’s just not conceivable any more, it wouldn’t work,” said one source close to the labor block on the supervisory board.
Schot’s ambition to remain at Audi’s top spot can be seen in his decision to relocate the reveal event of the company’s first all-electric model, the E-Tron SUV. It was Schot who insisted on moving the event on a later date and a different place, most likely in California, home of Tesla and number 1 target for the company’s upcoming range of EVs.