Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Volkswagen replaces CEO, announces new structure


Newly appointed Volkswagen chief executive officer Herbert Diess smiles at a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Volkswagen AG replaced chief executive officer Matthias Mueller with core brand head Herbert Diess on Thursday and said it is creating a new management structure to enable faster decisionmaking as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry.

The German automaker said in a statement that it would reorganize its management into six broad business areas plus China.

The new structure would streamline decisionmaking in the individual operating units, it added.

Diess, a former BMW AG executive, has had the difficult task of negotiating restructuring and cost-cutting with German worker representatives since becoming head of the Volkswagen brand in 2015.

Mueller, who formerly headed Porsche, unexpectedly took over as chief executive officer in September 2015 when Martin Winterkorn resigned over cars that had been rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

He led the Wolfsburg-based company through the aftermath of the scandal and turned in record sales and strong profits last year. The company sold 10.74 million vehicles and made 11.6 billion euros (US$14.3 billion) in profit.

Board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said Mueller, 64, had done “outstanding work” at a time when the company “faced the greatest challenge in its history.”

The new structure is to include three brand groups: volume products, premium and super premium. The company makes mass-market cars under the Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda brands, luxury cars under the Audi nameplate and highly priced vehicles under the Lamborghini and Bentley brands.

The truck and bus division, the fourth business group, would be made ready for capital markets, a step that could include selling shares in the division, the statement said.

The company did not detail the fifth and sixth business divisions ahead of a news conference scheduled for 10:30am yesterday.

Diess is not only to head the management board, the top executive body at German companies that reports to the supervisory board, or board of directors; he is also to be in charge of vehicle development and research, as well as vehicle-related information technology.

The company made other changes in top posts.

Head of purchasing Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz is leaving at his own request and his post is to be filled on an acting basis by Volkswagen brand purchasing head Ralf Brandstaetter, the company said.

Human resources head Karlheinz Blessing is being replaced by Gunnar Kilian, until now an official with the company’s works council — or employee representatives — and Porsche sports car division head Oliver Blume is being promoted to the top management body of the entire group, Volkswagen said.

The company is controlled by the Piech and Porsche families, who hold 52 percent of the voting rights. Other big shareholders are the German state of Lower Saxony, where Volkswagen is headquartered, with 20 percent of the voting rights, and Qatar Holding with 17 percent.

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