VW's China chief may quit after management overhaul, reports say
Bentley CEO to move to Audi as part of reshuffle
Volkswagen's China boss may leave the company and three Audi executives will be replaced under an extensive reorganization of managers to keep the carmaker focused on growth targets, press reports said.
Karl-Thomas Neumann, head of VW's China operations since September 2010, is likely to quit after being passed over for promotion, Spiegel magazine said. Neumann, a former CEO of supplier Continental, had been named by analysts as a possible candidate to replace VW CEO Martin Winterkorn when he retires.
Audi's technical chief Michael Dick and the premium brand's sales and marketing head Peter Schwarzenbauer will leave Audi's board as part of the shake-up, the Handelsblatt business newspaper reported.
Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer will replace Dick, according to Bloomberg. VW brand marketing head Luca de Meo will take over for Schwarzenbauer.
Ulf Berkenhagen, Audi's purchasing chief, will move to a new role coordinating procurement at VW Group's Scania and MAN truck units. He will be replaced by Bernd Martens, who currently works in purchasing, Bloomberg reported.
VW's 20-member supervisory board is meeting today and tomorrow to ratify the changes. "A massive overhaul is pending to ready the company for 2018," a source told Reuters.
VW will appoint a management board member for China to oversee the automaker's future expansion in its biggest market, reports said. Neumann had not been offered the post and had turned down another job within the group, Spiegel said.
VW's top management is said to be displeased with Neumann's performance in China, where quality issues with the carmaker's DQ200 seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions have led to consumer complaints and have cost the company 400,000 euros, Spiegel reported.
At Audi, VW's top management wants to see the brand compete more aggressively against BMW, Handelsblatt said.
Neumann: may leave VW
VW has pledged to become the world's biggest and most profitable car manufacturer by 2018, aiming to overtake General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. by boosting auto deliveries across its multibrand group to 10 million annually. Four-month sales this year rose 9 percent to 2.89 million vehicles.
Expansion at VW is also progressing at brand level. The company is aiming to purchase the second half of Porsche SE's carmaking operations and VW's Audi luxury division in April bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati. Separately, VW further increased its majority holding in German truckmaker MAN this year.
VW, the first overseas carmaker to enter China three decades ago, is currently building factories in Foshan, Yizheng and Ningbo to strengthen representation in southeastern China. The company aims to spend 14 billion euros on new factories and products in China through 2016, said in April it will build a new factory in western China.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this storyContact Automotive News