Rupert “The Bear” Stadler, the former CEO of Audi, becomes the public face of disgrace, a fall guy for which the cowering cowards over at Volkswagen can hide behind. Rupert Stadler is not innocent in any way, he was the Audi CEO from 2007 to 2018 and had full knowledge of VW’s so-called defeat device. The defeat device, a software algorithm, concealed vehicles’ actual emissions output allowing all VW-owned brands to sail through stringent emissions testing. Volkswagen used the defeat device for over 20 years before they were caught with their till in the hand.
Not one to shy away from publicity for financial gain, Volkswagen used the emissions test results to market their “clean diesel” engine technology to consumers with the full knowledge that the marketing and advertising were baseless and fraudulent. The mass fraud allowed an unmetered amount of toxic pollution to cascade over public health like a death cloud for over 20 years. Unwittingly, Volkswagen, no different from organized crime, accelerated the EU’s desire to mandate the switch to electric vehicles.
Volkswagen’s deception demonstrated that the ICE engine had reached its limits. But the fines were unlimited, and VW spent billions settling class action lawsuits from the public and governments across the world. Because VW is backed by the German state, in part, it is too big and too influential to fail. But VW must show to the world it is being held to account and so they went searching for crash test dummies to become the public face of humiliation.
Rupert Stadler is the chosen one, the crash test dummy who becomes VW’s highest-profile figure to squint in the harsh glare of public humiliation and scorn. But Stadler will not face prison time because he is being given an option, to confess about the role he played in VW’s diesel dodging in exchange for a suspended sentence and a fine of $1.2M USD. It is a lot of money to pay to avoid jail, but Stadler should have enough in the bank to cover the fine.
The Audi CEO is typically paid around $10M USD per year. Stadler was CEO for over 10 years so with clever tax dodging and savings, he must be privately delighted to buy his way out of prison time. It just goes to show, the biggest crooks aren’t the petty thieves or even armed robbers. The biggest crimes are committed by white-collar workers.