ADAC sinking to new depths
The ’Yellow Angel’ award scam
ADAC, the German car club famous for their prestigious car test reports is in deep trouble after a series of revelations. Although they have found themselves in the middle of controversy before - remember the results of their Dacia Logan stability test which, once the test was repeated, turned out to be untrue? -, their results and statistic data had been seen as go-to sources until not long ago. As there is no shortage of trustworthy German companies with a similar profile, though (e.g. the Dekra), ADAC’s position is in serious danger after their latest scandal, the biggest in their 111-year history.
It was revealed a few weeks ago that ADAC has been doctoring the readership votes for the annual ‘Yellow Angel’ award for Germany’s favourite car since 2009. Communications manager Michael Ramstetter has since resigned, but that will do little to save the company’s battered reputation. It turned out that last year’s winner, the VW Golf had only received 3,271 votes instead of the reported 34,299 thousand – and the strange thing is it would have come first anyway. Of course, this wasn’t only a disgrace for ADAC, but reflected negatively on the Volkswagen Group as well. But ADAC pushed it even further.
ADAC did the only thing acceptable in such a situation ordaining a strict and transparent enquiry. To conduct the investigation they hired Deloitte, an independent auditor company, not suspecting that they would find further skeletons in the closet. But they did, leaving Peter Meyer, the president of the state-aided organization counting 19 million members no choice but to resign.
Deloitte found out that ADAC had not only rigged the votes but manipulated the rankings as well. The BMW Series-3, which should have come second based on votes submitted, was simply left out from the top 5 while the Series-5 was inserted in 5th place. As a means of protest BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler immediately returned their altogether 40 awards won previously.
Why and how such a scam could happen, whether any car manufacturers played a part in it and whether those responsible on their part will be named is yet unknown. But both parties have lost great face on the sensitive local market and beyond. And as if the award scam wasn’t enough, ADAC has also come under fire lately for charging inflated prices for car batteries to stranded motorists, while several of their top executives have been accused of inappropriate use of rescue helicopters and jets.