STUTTGART -- Porsche will decide next month if its development chief, Wolfgang Hatz, can return to his job following his suspension in connection with Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions scandal.
Porsche parent, Volkswagen Group, will report on the status of an independent investigation into the scandal led by U.S. law firm Jones Day in the second half of April.
"By the time the report is presented, it should be clear whether Hatz was in any way involved, and then a decision could be taken,” a company source familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe.
This means that Hatz could return to his post in May if not earlier if the investigation clears him of wrongdoing.
At Porsche's 2015 results presentation here on Friday, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said: "We will see what happens in the coming weeks."
Blume was promoted to Porsche CEO from production boss last October after the sports car brand's chief Matthias Mueller stepped up to the role of VW Group CEO. Blume continues to support Hatz even though he had not yet had the opportunity to work with him since Blume took over the CEO job.
A Wall Street Journal report in October said the probe into the diesel scandal was focusing on Hatz and Audi’s former development chief Ulrich Hackenberg, who are viewed as two of the best and brightest engineers in German industry, along with former VW powertrain boss Hans-Jakob Neusser. Neusser and Hackenberg have since left VW Group. The three executives have not commented publicly but deny they knew about any illegal activities, media reports in Germany have said.
Hatz remained listed as Porsche's development boss in the brand’s annual report published on Friday.
Hatz became responsible for VW Group powertrain development in 2007 but gave up the post in 2012 to focus on his Porsche development job he took on in 2011.
Despite his role as a top VW Group engineer during the time that the automaker was building emissions-cheating diesel engines, Hatz enjoys support within VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg. "Don’t forget, Mueller came from Porsche and worked closely together with him," the source said.
Hatz’s job at Porsche is split up between 10 different department heads in engineering. The head of chassis development, Peter Schaefer, has for the past few months served as their joint delegate to participate in meetings with Blume and his senior management team.