German carmakers Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW will return awards received from auto club ADAC following discovery of results manipulation for the "Yellow Angel" award by an external audit conducted by Deloitte. An audit of the award procedures was conducted by Deloitte after claims surfaced in January that ADAC's Motorwelt magazine had inflated readership votes.
ADAC had said that 34,299 motorists voted for the “Yellow Angel” award, which is given to the most popular car in Germany. According to Deloitte, it had found evidence of "willful manipulation" as well as technologically flawed processing of data. The audit discovered that the order of four of the first five places had been manipulated.
For instance, BMW's 3-series car should have been second behind the VW Golf based on votes submitted. However, the 3-series did not even make it into the top five. While the Golf was the rightful winner of the award, the Audi A3 was wrongly placed as No. 2 and the Mercedes A Class was wrongly placed at No. 3.
Deloitte discovered that 3,271 votes were for the Golf; 1,703 for the BMW 3 series; 1,664 for the Audi A3; 1,320 for the Mercedes A Class; and 1,184 for the Skoda Octavia. ADAC initially said that only the total number of votes had been manipulated but not the order. During its audit, Deloitte examined computer data and conducted interviews with ADAC employees.
Deloitte said the former director of ADAC communications, Peter Ramstetter, had simulated different scenarios on his computer on how the number and order of the votes could be manipulated. According to ADAC, Deloitte would now examine the voting in the years 2005 until 2013 after finding similarities in how the “Yellow Angel” prize had been awarded.