Audi announces new government affairs roles amid controversy

The move, likely to work with the ongoing “dieselgate” scandal, is disguised as a move to work with growing technologies in the industry.

Audi announced on Friday that the company is creating two new government affairs positions in Washington D.C. and Sacramento California amongst controversy on 3.0 liter diesel engines that allegedly misrepresent the true amount of CO2 emissions coming from each car and a growing debate on self-driving cars.

Brad Stertz and Tom Baloga were hired on to the new positions for Director of Audi Government Affairs in the nation’s capital and Senior Director of Audi Government Affairs in California’s state capital, respectively, according to a press release published on Business Wire Friday.

The press release stated that the roles were created in response to rapidly evolving topics like automated vehicle deployment, electric vehicles and changing infrastructure, connected vehicle technologies, safety, cyber security, emissions and trade. The new positions will work closely with Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany.

“Technology is transforming the car business, and nowhere is that happening more rapidly than in America,” Scott Keogh, President of Audi America, said in a statement. “We intend to stand at the forefront of this revolution. These two new representatives will put Audi in the middle of decisions shaping the future.”

The German-based auto manufacturer is likely making the move of appointing the two individuals in direct response to the “dieselgate” scandal, but is cloaking it as a response to evolving technologies in an effort to minimize negative publicity. Although these new technologies demand attention, the hiring of senior government affairs personnel will largely be due to the legislative battle that Volkswagen and Audi will have to endure in the Capitol. The battle is currently underway in California.

AutoNews published Friday that roughly 43,000 of the “dieselgate” affected vehicles are still on American roadways. Audi is currently working with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board to engineer a plan to fix the vehicles with illegal emissions software. The agencies announced this week that they rejected a proposal from Volkswagen, Audi’s owner company, to repair the illegal software on 2.0 liter diesel Volkswagens. In addition to owning Audi, Volkswagen also owns Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda.