ADAC car club rocked by vote-rigging scandal

Article by Anita Panait, on January 24, 2014

The revelations that ADAC -- the largest and most influential car club in Europe -- had falsified results of its annual car award had led many to question its credibility as well as its car safety tests. The club’s communications director Michael Ramstetter resigned after conceding that he manipulated the results of the coveted "Yellow Angel" award for Germany's favorite car, an accolade received by the Volkswagen Golf model.

Volkswagen said it was considering giving back the award to ADAC.  "We've got our work cut out for us to repair the tarnished reputation," remarked ADAC managing director Karl Obermair, who described Ramstetter's actions "an inexcusable mistake.” Obermair issued an apology after initially scolding the media for reporting doubts on ADAC's vote-counting.

"This strikes at the very core of our existence. Our goal is to restore our credibility." The over 18 million-member ADAC gives out the Yellow Angel award which can boost sales in a competitive domestic market.

ADAC conceded that Ramstetter massively inflated the results of votes, saying that 34,299 motorists had voted for the VW Golf as Germany's favorite car when it had only been 3,409 votes. ADAC said that despite the inflation of the total number of votes, the order of the results was not tampered with.

Despite that statement, protests still erupted in Germany over the vote-rigging at the club, which is regarded as one of the country's most respected institutions alongside the Bundesbank and Stiftung Warentest. "It's up to ADAC to come clean with everything," said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Dobrindt said ADAC should start "showing a little more modesty" in the future.

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