• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

ADAC admits making up car award votes

AFP/The Local · 20 Jan 2014, 09:42

Published: 20 Jan 2014 09:42 GMT+01:00

It emerged on Sunday that communications head Michael Ramstetter had bumped up the number of votes cast by ten times to make the VW Golf 2014's car of the year. Bild am Sonntag reported Ramstetter claimed 34,299 were cast for the VW Golf. In reality it was 3,409.

On Monday the Munich-based company admitted that this was just the start of the scandal.

Ramstetter had, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, lied about participant numbers in at least 2012 and 2013, in order to make the prize, and therefore the company – which has 19 million members – appear more important.

It is unclear how many years the manipulation of the award has gone on for.

Whether this meant Germany's top car award, the “Gelber Engel”, was a total fix is unclear, as the ballots were destroyed for “data protection reasons” the paper said.

“I've messed up and cooked the numbers,” long-standing employee Ramstetter told the Süddeutsche Zeitung shortly after being sacked on Friday. His boss, head of ADAC Karl Obermair, has ordered a full investigation into his actions.

“Credibility and trust are our key commodity,” Obermair told the newspaper, adding that ADAC would be apologizing to car manufacturers. The award was a respected gauge of cars on the market.

ADAC management said it was unaware of the deception and pledged to conduct the ADAC Motorwelt readers' survey under the supervision of independent legal observers in future.
   
At a televised press conference, managing director Karl Obermair said he would stay on in the post, saying that Ramstetter "is not a pawn sacrifice, but a high-ranking executive of the ADAC".
   
Pledging a full investigation, he said ADAC staff were demoralized by the scandal and had reacted to the news with "an emotional mix of outrage, anger and disbelief".
 
Ramstetter was also editor-in-chief of ADAC's car industry magazine Motorworld. He was photographed by the Bild newspaper heading off on holiday on Sunday following his dismissal. "It's a write-off," claimed the paper, after the 111-year-old association's admission.

Speaking for many in a country where the car is sacred, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt demanded that ADAC "put the cards on the table" and provide full transparency over what went wrong.

ADAC is best known in Germany for its "yellow angel" roadside assistance patrols which rush to the aid of stranded drivers, as well as for its rescue helicopters.

But the Munich-based club is also a major lobby group and corporate operator which tests vehicle safety and sells commercial services from car rentals and insurance to holidays and long-distance bus services.

Story continues below…

It also came under fire in 2005 for fixing a test of the budget, Romanian-built Dacia. It put out a press release saying the vehicle was unsafe while later transpiring the company had purposefully damaged the wheels to make it perform badly, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung revealed.

Green party parliamentary leader and transport expert Anton Hofreiter said that the ADAC or Allgemeine Deutsche Automobil-Club "cannot afford a fraud on this scale", pointing to its "public responsibility".

READ MORE: Buses - Germany's new favourite form of transport
 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ansbach suicide attack
Isis says Syrian bomber in Bavaria one of its 'soldiers'
Photo: DPA

The Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany was a "soldier" of the Isis, the jihadist-linked Amaq news agency said on Monday.

Merkel's refugee policy was 'reckless': Left Party leader
Photo: DPA

The attacks carried out by refugees over the past week show accepting large numbers of refugees brings "significant problems", the party's chairwoman said on Monday.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach suicide bomber confirms Isis loyalty in video
Police remove evidence from the bombers residence. Photo: DPA

The man who blew himself up in Ansbach, Bavaria, on Sunday evening, injuring 15 people, recorded a video in which he pledged his allegiance to terror group Isis.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Want to know which companies shell out the most for salaries?

How will Germany change after string of bloody attacks?
A policeman in Ansbach on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Within seven days Germany has been hit by four bloody attacks on innocent people on its streets and in a train. What does this unprecedented string of murders mean for the country?

After attacks, minister rejects blanket suspicion of refugees
Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,692
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd