As the U.S. Congress prepares to question Volkswagen officials in Washington over its manipulation of American emissions tests, German media are reporting the company itself is focusing on three development managers who have been suspended.
Bild newspaper reported Sunday that Heinz-Jakob Neusser, head of development at VW, and engineers Ulrich Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hatz had been put on forced vacation in the wake of the scandal. Other newspapers had similar reports.
Hatz declined comment through a spokesman and neither of the other two responded to emails seeking comment. VW spokesman Eric Felber on Monday refused to comment on "various public speculation."
Bild reported that VW's internal investigation had turned up contradictory information on Hackenberg's possible involvement, while Hatz denied knowledge.
From 2002 to January 2007, Hackenberg was in charge of concept development, superstructure development and electronics at VW subsidiary Audi. In 2007 he was appointed a member of the VW brand's board for development, and has been a member of Audi's management board since July 2013. He had responsibility for technical development of all of the VW group's brands.
Hatz joined the VW group in 2001 and served as head of engines and transmissions development at Audi until 2009, while assuming the same function at VW in 2007. In February, 2011 he became a member of Porsche's board of management in charge of research and development and is also head of engines and transmissions development for the Volkswagen group.
VW and Porsche merged in 2012 after years of wrangling.
Neusser was in charge of drivetrain development of Porsche from 2001 to 2011 before joining VW to head powertrain development there, taking over the job for the whole Volkswagen group in 2012. The next year, he was named management board member for the Volkswagen brand in charge of development.
VW's top manager in the US, Michael Horn, is to testify before Congress on Thursday.