Volkswagen AG’s luxury flagship Audi has suspended two engineers after its larger diesel engines were found evading emissions limits in the United States, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in a newspaper interview published on Thursday.
Volkswagen (VW) and Audi notified U.S. authorities last Thursday that about 85,000 vehicles with 3.0 liter V6 diesel engines were fitted with emissions-control equipment that was not disclosed to U.S. regulators.
The news widened a scandal at parent VW which has led to the ouster of its long-time chief executive and wiped more than 20 billion euros ($21 billion) off the group’s market value.
Audi is now investigating whether employees in technical development and other departments deliberately manipulated emission-control devices and has suspended two engineers, Stadler said in an interview with the Donaukurier regional newspaper, without giving any further details.
The V6 diesel engine was designed and assembled by Audi at its factory in Neckarsulm, Germany and widely used in premium models sold by the group’s VW, Audi and Porsche brands in model years 2009 through 2016, Audi said on Monday.
The Audi suspensions take the number of officials confirmed to have been put on leave across the group as a result of its internal investigations to eight, including at least six senior individuals. Media reports suggest that an even larger number have been implicated by an investigation commissioned by the company.
VW has claimed major progress this week in its battle with regulators over cleaning up the scandal. On Monday, CEO Matthias Müller told managers that the German auto watchdog KBA had approved its plans to fix the problems with its smaller diesel engines in a way that will only cost tens of millions of euros, rather than the €6.7 billion it set aside initially to cover the damage. The company’s shares have recovered to their highest level since the scandal broke in September, but are are still down over 22% from before the scandal.