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ADAC car club under scrutiny

January 19, 2014

Media reports in Germany say a senior official of the influential ADAC automobile club has resigned amid claims - denied by the ADAC - that its 2013 member survey to identify their favorite car could have been falsified.

ADAC headquarters in Munich. dpa/lby +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

An ADAC spokesman said a detailed explanation would be given later Sunday on news that the club's head of communications Michael Ramstetter had quit office.

Club spokesman Christian Garrels told the German news agency DPA early Sunday morning local time that Ramstetter had quit various functions, including editorship of the association's flagship magazine ADAC Motorwelt, which runs the annual survey.

According to DPA, Garrels confirmed a Bild am Sonntag newspaper report that ADAC management had been told on Friday of allegedly falsified ballot results.

On Thursday, the prize was officially awarded at an official ceremony in Munich to Volkwagen's Golf, a medium-sized car among an all-class field of 249 vehicles.

Denials issued

The Munich-based ADAC, with 19 million members nationwide, had issued denials since Tuesday when the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, also based in Munich, made the allegation.

The paper said the 2013 prize had gone to the VW Golf on the basis of only 3,409 votes, although an ADAC document in December 2013 had cited 34,299 votes.

In an initial response, the ADAC said a "few vagaries" had occurred in recent years but these had been eliminated.

And, at Thursday's ceremony, ADAC's head of management Karl Obermaier told guests that the media allegations amounted to "slurs and falsehoods."

Inquiry ordered

Bild am Sonntag said ADAC top managers had ordered an internal inquiry into the Motorwelt's survey procedures of recent years.

Ramstetter had earlier told another publication, Euro am Sonntag, that in the future the survey would be conducted by an external agency and the results would be certified by notaries.

He declined to say how many Motorwelt readers would participate in the survey in the future.

The prize for favorite car is one of nine prices awarded by the ADAC annually.

The ADAC, with its trademark yellow rescue vehicles, ranks in terms of member numbers as the world's second largest motoring sector association.

It was formed in 1903 and has diverse activities including travel sales, advice to motorists and stakes in motor racing.

Rival German clubs such as the VCD argue for more emphasis on public transport and mobility options.

ipj/tj (dpa, AFP)