Fri, 30 May 2014 16:30:00 EST
Daimler opened up its archives for research into its Nazi affiliations for one book published in 1990 and another in 1998. The Quandt family behind BMW had its public catharsis in 2007. The ties between the National Socialists and the Porsche and Piech families have almost rendered the Volkswagen Beetle some kind of cult tchotchke of the Third Reich. And it's not just automakers called in for cleansing: Deutsche Bank credit helped build Auschwitz, Hugo Boss made Nazi uniforms, patriarch of food and frozen pizza giant Dr. Oetker volunteered for the Waffen-SS. As one historian said, for any business that wanted to stay in business during the war, "no company was really clean. Everyone had to resort to slave labor when their own workers were fighting at the front."
Mon, 24 Feb 2014 08:29:00 EST
Audi is the latest to go public with findings from an in-depth study of the Nazi-affiliated past of Auto Union, its predecessor company, and the "Father of Auto Union" Dr. Richard Bruhn, the man who headed it pre- and post-war. Commissioned by Audi, written by Audi's history department head Martin Kukowski and University of Chemnitz historian Rudolf Boch, its findings are just as severe as those already heard so often over the past 20 years. Among other discoveries, the study found that not only did Brun manage the use of more than 3,700 forced labor camp workers from seven SS-run camps, 16,500 forced laborers that didn't live in camps worked in two more factories; Bruhn wanted even more laborers but couldn't get them because of the battlefield situation; and that Auto Union had "moral responsibility" for roughly 4,500 workers killed at the Flossenbürg concentration camp. The study found that disabled workers were routinely sent to the camp and executed there.
Audi works council head Peter Mosch said, "I'm very shocked by the scale of the involvement of the former Auto Union leadership in the system of forced and slave labor. I was not aware of the extent." The company is figuring out how it will respond to the findings, so far working on changing the online profile of Dr. Bruhn on its history pages on Audi sites around the world, and considering stripping Brun's name from the street that bears it and from company offerings like pension plans. If you can read German or can work Google Translate, Wirtschaftswoche has a long piece on the study and its conclusions.
Audi's high-performance S models have forged a reputation in the US for offering wonderful driving dynamics in a package that doesn't scream, "I bought a sport sedan." However, its even higher-performance RS models are still somewhat of a rarity here. While the RS5 and RS7 are in the current US lineup, many of the wild RS models that Europe gets, like the RS6 Avant (pictured above), never make it to these shores. Unfortunately, that might not be changing anytime soon with the next-gen RS4.
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:20:00 EST
The RS4 will follow the lead of the next BMW M3/M4 and (rumored) next Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG and make the switch to a smaller turbocharged powerplant. According to an Audi insider speaking to Car and Driver, the next RS4 will drop the last generation's 4.2-liter V8 in favor of a turbocharged V6. The engine block will likely be shared with the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 in the regular S4 but fitted with two turbochargers. Power would likely be around 400 horsepower to match the 425-hp M3 and rumored 450-hp C-Class AMG.
Unfortunately, the RS might not make it across the pond to our waiting hands because the source says no decision has been made to export them yet. Obviously, we hope that Audi makes the right decision and brings the next RS4 here.
Wolfgang Egger, Audi's chief designer, is leaving the company according to a Automotive News Europe, which cites a report from Germany's Automobilwoche. Egger won't be going far, though, remaining within the Volkswagen family and taking up head design position Italdesign Giugiaro, a VW subsidiary as of 2010.
Egger took over the position at Audi from Walter de Silva, and has been responsible most recently for the Audi A6 and A3, as well as the 2010 Quattro Concept and the E-Tron Concept. He previously was head of design at Lancia and then at Alfa Romeo, where he was responsible for the achingly gorgeous 8C Competizione.
If Egger does move to Italdesign, his successor is likely to be Marc Lichte, the Volkswagen designer behind the current Golf. Of course, these personnel changes haven't been officially confirmed, and Audi is thus far refusing to comment on either Egger or Lichte's possible career shifts. We'll stay with this one, so sit tight.