RUMOUR HAS IT...
Stadler still behind bars
Former Audi CEO remains in jail without charge in Germany over Dieselgate
Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler remains incarcerated in Augsburg, Germany, after his appeal for release was rejected by a Munich appeals court.
While he has not been charged with any offence, he has been detained in Augsburg prison, where blue is the new black, since his arrest in June.
He has been temporarily replaced by Audi’s sales and marketing boss Bram Schot, though sources insist BMW’s ex-director of purchasing Markus Duesmann will take over the post full time on January 1 2019.
Stadler, 55, was arrested after police and prosecutors alleged phone-tap recordings showed him working to cover up investigations and tamper with evidence in the Volkswagen Group’s dieselgate scandal. The scandal originated inside Audi’s diesel development department and Stadler was a board member of the Volkswagen Group.
The court insisted that Stadler was still under suspicion and that he continued to allow Audi models to be sold with the questionable diesel engines, even though he was aware of the software manipulation.
Former Volkswagen Group powertrain boss Wolfgang Hatz was released last month after nine months in a Munich prison without charge.
The unloved Alfa Romeo three-door, the Mito, will be killed off in 2019 to make way for the Italian brand’s more concentrated assault on SUV sectors. It won’t just be a blow to Alfa Romeo’s grand traditions of building small cars, but a blow to the three-door genre in general, which is facing near annihilation.
Alfa Romeo Europe boss Roberta Zerbi confirmed the Mito will end its run in 2019 and will not be replaced. The writing was on the board when the Mito did not feature in June’s five-year plan for Alfa, which outlined the arrival schedule of two new SUVs, a replacement for the 8C and a cheaper GTV-style model.
The three-door genre has taken a hammering lately, with Volkswagen killing off the short versions of the Up and the Polo, Seat dumping the Leon and the Mii (its version of the Up) and Audi offloading the short A3. Other three-doors killed off recently include the Range Rover Evoque, while the next generations of the Audi A1, the Golf and the Kia Proceed will be five-door only. Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class is now five-door only, too.
A small SUV will sit beneath the Stelvio, which Alfa hopes will attract Mito buyers (admittedly, there aren’t many of them) as it bridges the gap from the ageing Giulietta.
Volvo adds to range
Volvo has added an entry-level T3 model to is new XC40 range. The all-new 1.5l, three-cylinder, direct-injection petrol engine was developed in-house using the same modular design as Volvo’s four-cylinder Drive-E engines. Currently it is only available with a six-speed manual transmission but an eight-speed auto will follow at a later date.
The new model develops 115kW and 265Nm and is priced from R486,500. This new powertrain has been designed for electrification, so expect to feature in a twin engine plug-in hybrid at some point while the company says it is also looking at a pure electric XC40 further down the line.
Feeling the pinch?
If you are wondering where all your money has gone at the end of each month, then WesBank has provided part of the answer. The finance house says the average cost for motorists has risen by R940 per month, or 14%, over the past year alone. In total, the average monthly costs for motorists have risen by a whopping 31% since 2013.
VW outsaucing crisis
Volkswagen has messed with its biggest-selling product, and its workers aren’t happy about it. No, it’s not the Golf or even the Polo. And it’s sure not anything to do with cleaning up diesel emissions.
The biggest-selling single product with a Volkswagen badge is its currywurst sausage and this month it changed the ketchup across its European plants. Its workers are outraged at the outsaucing. Currywurst is a northern German staple, a combination of bockwurst, ketchup and curry powder that was born of the austerity of post-war Berlin. Volkswagen sells 7 million of them a year, including to its own workforce.
The German media dubbed it ketchupgate, which sounds a whole lot nicer than Volkswagen’s last "-gate".
Volkswagen had a contract with a US food company to supply the sauce, but last year it allowed 12 contractors to bid on brewing up a new ketchup recipe as close as possible to the original for its cafeterias and supermarkets in the towns near them.
German publication Handelsblatt reported that the winning bidder, Munich’s Develey, reduced the fat and sugar content, fiddled the ratio of the 21 spices involved and added more actual tomato paste. While the new recipe passed hundreds of tests and clinics, it failed the most important test of all — inside Volkswagen’s cafeterias.
Workers attacked the sauce on the company’s intranet system, although the boss of catering insisted the issue wasn’t the sauce but that the company told the workers of the change. Volkswagen insists it will make changes to the recipe — on the 45th anniversary of the introduction of the original sauce — until its workers are happy again.
While Volkswagen sells almost 11-million cars a year globally, it sold 6.8-million of its bockwurst sausages last year — or about 18,000 a day — all made in its own butcher’s shop in the Wolfsburg plant to a recipe that dates back to 1973.