As heralded by earlier media reports, Audi's technical chief has 'stepped down' from his board level post with immediate effect.
Ina blunt statement, Audi said: "Stefan Knirsch, member of the board of management of Audi AG for technical development, is stepping down from his position with immediate effect and is leaving the company in agreement with the supervisory board."
The weekend before last, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, citing sources, reported Knirsch would be suspended in the coming week.
Investigations by Jones Day had shown that Knirsch knew about the use of cheat software in three-litre diesel engines and gave a false promise under oath, the paper said. Knirsch had already been asked to clear his desk, it added.
Audi had admitted earlier its three-litre V6 diesel engine was fitted with emissions-control software, deemed as illegal in the United States where the scandal has engulfed VW.
Knirsch, Audi's former head of engine development, replaced Ulrich Hackenberg, the top engineer at Audi and the VW group, last year. Hackenberg quit after being suspended together with two other executives closely associated with the development of the VW engine at the centre of the scandal, codenamed EA 189.
Knirsh was named a member of the Audi management board with responsibility for technical development last 1 January. He started his career in engine design with Audi in Neckarsulm in 1990 and joined Porsche in 1996 as project manager for engine development and started working as project manager for engine and customer development in 1997. In 2001 he was appointed head of basic engine development at Porsche.
In 2006, he assumed the position of head of aftersales in the sales division of Porsche in 2007. In 2010 he became head of company quality. Knirsch then joined Rheinmetall Group as CEO of Pierburg. In May 2013 he returned to Audi and took over as head of powertrain development.
Audi's statement provided only minimal details of Knirsch's time with the automaker.
Last week, a media report said VW investigators had found no suspicious facts against the head of Audi. Reuters reported VW chief executive Matthias Mueller had said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler had been questioned by US law firm Jones Day but gave no details about the inquiry.
"So far nothing has been relayed to the company that would suggest to dismiss Stadler," said one of two sources "close to Audi" told the news agency.