Ex-BMW man is new chief at Volkswagen
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP has announced Herbert Diess will take the top job at the German car giant as Matthias Mueller steps down after leading the company through the aftermath of the emissions scandal.
The supervisory board of the company – which also owns the Audi, Bentley, Porsche, SEAT and Skoda marques – pulled forward today’s scheduled board meeting to make the change, which also involved reforms of the structure of the huge company. Mr Diess, previously head of Volkswagen cars division, joined VW Group from BMW just months before the “diesel gate” scandal broke in 2015.
He was widely seen as the natural successor to Martin Winterkorn, who resigned from the top job five days after the scale of VW’s deception over emissions became clear.
Mr Mueller – a veteran of the German car company – was promoted from his role heading the Porsche division to take the job heading the entire group. At the time his appointment was criticised by some who wanted a complete outsider unconnected with the scandal that sent VW into crisis.
A shake-up of the company was first flagged on Tuesday when VW Group issued an ambiguous statement referring to it “considering a further development of the management structure of the group”.
This, it said, could include “personnel changes in the board of management … a change to the chief executive could be involved”.
The company’s statement concluded that Mr Mueller had “showed his general willingness to contribute to the changes”. A change of leadership will also pave the way for streamlining the VW Group’s unwieldy structure by grouping similar marques together and ending duplication of functions such as R&D and marketing in each brand.
The company’s MAN and Scania commercial vehicles brands could face being spun off.
Last year an attempt to sell the Ducati motorbike arm was blocked by unions, who have a powerful say in how the company is run.
Half of VW Group’s 20-member supervisory board is made up of union and employee representatives – in accordance with German law – with the other half consisting of investors.
As a further part of the changes announced yesterday, Gunnar Kilian, the secretary-general of the Volkswagen Group Works Council, has been appointed the new member of the group board of management for human resources.
Oliver Blume, who heads up the Porsche brand, will join Volkswagen’s management board.
In the driving seat: Herbert Diess joined VW Group from its German rival just months before ‘dieselgate’ broke in 2015, so is untainted by the emissions scandal