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Audi searched by German police in Dieselgate swoop


German prosecutors searched Audi's two biggest plants and other sites on Wednesday in connection with the emissions scandal still rocking parent Volkswagen (VOWG_p. DE), adding to pressure on the luxury division and its Chief Executive Rupert Stadler. Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that up to 11 million of its vehicles worldwide had software installed that cheats emissions tests, unleashing its biggest ever crisis. The raids, the first at Audi since VW's diesel scandal broke 18 months ago, centered on who was involved in the use of any illicit software used in 80,000 VW, Audi and Porsche cars with bigger 3.0 liter engines that were found to exceed U.S. emissions limits. Volkswagen has already agreed to pay more than $1 billion to fix or buy back the 80,000 cars as part of an overall U.S. settlement expected to cost the group as much as $17.5 billion."With these search orders we aim to clarify in particular who was involved in deploying the technology concerned and in the provision of false information to third parties," the Munich prosecutor's office said in a statement on Wednesday, without naming any suspects. It said the raids involved prosecutors from several jurisdictions and state police from Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony.

The police swoop coincided with a major annual press conference at which Stadler was presenting Audi's 2016 earnings - compounding the group's embarrassment."I have all along supported efforts to clear up the diesel issue at Audi," he told reporters, while conceding that efforts to recover from the scandal were "far from over". A statement from the prosecutor on Wednesday's raids cited suspicion that the cars, sold in the United States between 2009 and 2015, were also fitted with devices to cheat tests.

VW's Wolfsburg headquarters were searched, along with Audi's Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm factories and six other unspecified sites, the group said. The two Audi plants employ a combined 60,000 workers. Some 70 law enforcement officials also searched offices and private apartments as part of the Ingolstadt operation, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, adding that Stadler's home was not among those raided. Stadler, who has run Audi since 2007, has been criticized for his handling of the emissions scandal but said on Wednesday he continues to command the VW board's full support, reiterated publicly last month.

Ingolstadt-based Audi said it had every interest in getting to the bottom of the emissions-cheating scandal and was fully cooperating with the searches."We will keep at it until this work is done," CEO Stadler aid. Cars sold in European markets are outside the scope of the investigation, the Munich prosecutor said. Audi last year increased its diesel scandal-related provisions to 1.63 billion euros and said on Wednesday it did not expect to have to do so again. The carmaker also recorded costs of 162 million euro for the recall of cars fitted with Takata Corp

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GM will rehire 500 Michigan workers slated for layoffs


General Motors Co plans next year to rehire 500 Michigan assembly plant workers who are to be laid off in May, citing increased demand for larger vehicles, the company said on Wednesday. GM said last week it planned to lay off 1,100 workers in May at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan. The company is moving production of the GMC Acadia mid-size SUV to Spring Hill, Tennessee, from the factory, which will build just two models, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs. The company said that when it begins full production of the new versions of the two models in 2018, it would "bring back approximately 500 jobs to give the company flexibility to meet market demand."GM also said it would add 220 jobs at a plant in Romulus, Michigan, that is building 10-speed automatic transmissions, and it would retain 180 jobs by shifting Lansing workers to a Flint assembly plant to support pickup truck production.

The news comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is set to visit Michigan later on Wednesday to announce that his administration will reopen a review of fuel efficiency standards, a move that could help automakers sell more of their larger models. GM did not credit Trump with the decision to add jobs."We haven’t fundamentally changed any of our plans, but we continue to look for ways to improve our operations and find ways to help the country, grow jobs and support economic growth," spokesman Pat Morrissey said.

He said Trump's visit "gave us a positive venue to share good news for the state of Michigan – and specifically for our plants and people in Flint, Romulus and Lansing."The Detroit automaker in recent months has announced other U.S. job cuts and new investments. GM said in January it would invest another $1 billion in its U.S. factories.

Trump has urged GM and other automakers to build more cars in the United States as part of his pledge to boost the nation's manufacturing jobs and discourage the industry from investing in Mexico. GM said in November it would cut about 2,000 jobs when it ended the third shift at its Lordstown, Ohio, and Lansing Grand River plants in January. In December, it said it planned to cancel the second shift and cut nearly 1,300 jobs from its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in March.