Audi gets new sales, purchasing, development bosses as part of VW shake-up
Heizmann will oversee China; new CEO appointed at Bentley
- Peter Schwarzenbauer
- General Motors
- Martin Winterkorn
- Luca De Meo
- Karl-Thomas Neumann
- Hans Dieter Poetsch
- Sports car
- Michael Dick
- Ulf Berkenhagen
- Jochem Heizmann
- Wolfgang Duerheimer
STUTTGART -- Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn replaced three Audi board members and added a board level post for VW group in China as part of a shake-up of top management to push forward his growth plans for the automaker.
VW brand marketing chief Luca De Meo will lead Audi's sales, taking over for Peter Schwarzenbauer. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer will move to Audi to head development, replacing Michael Dick.
VW commercial vehicles chief Wolfgang Schreiber, 53, will succeed Duerheimer, also 53, as CEO of the Bentley and Bugatti brands.
VW executive Bernd Martens, 46, will be Audi's new purchasing boss. Martens, who currently works in VW purchasing, will replace Ulf Berkenhagen, who will be head of procurement at VW-controlled truckmaker MAN.
Jochem Heizmann will move to a newly created management board post with responsibility for China. Heizmann is currently head of commercial vehicles at VW. Current China chief Karl-Thomas Neumann was passed over for the board post. Neumann's future with VW is unclear.
The changes take effect September 1.
"We are now further intensifying knowledge transfer and management links within the group," Winterkorn said at a press conference in Stuttgart on Saturday to explain the changes. "All changes are internal. It is important to have people in leadership positions who know the company."
The China board post reflects the increasing important of the automaker's biggest market. VW's Chinese joint ventures plan to invest 14 billion euros ($17.3 billion) in the country through 2016 to expand production. VW will open a new assembly plant in western China as it pushes expansion beyond the country's bustling coast.
Heizmann, 60, the new China board member, is a production expect and a close aide of Winterkorn. He spent almost five years working at Audi alongside Winterkorn who was then the unit's CEO, before serving as VW group production chief from 2007 to 2010.
Winterkorn said on Saturday he's seeking a new role at VW for Neumann, a former CEO of supplier Continental. Neumann, 51, has lead VW's China operations since September 2010.
At Audi, the changes reflect Winterkorn's desire to reduce the average age of the premium brand's seven-member management board, German press reports have said. Winterkorn also wants the brand to compete more aggressively against BMW.
Audi aims to dethrone BMW as the top luxury carmaker by 2015 after the brand passed Mercedes-Benz to become the world's second-largest luxury brand last year. Audi's global car sales increased 15 percent to 1.09 million last year. Mercedes-Benz brand sales rose 12 percent to 1.17 million. BMW brand was up 15 percent to 1.22 million.
Dick, 60, who became Audi's technical development chief in 2007, is retiring. Schwarzenbauer, 52, is leaving VW Group. His position has been the subject of much speculation because he has clashed with Volkswagen Group sales and marketing chief Christian Klingler, according to reports.
De Meo, Schwarzenbauer's successor as Audi's sales and marketing boss, joined VW in 2009 from Fiat S.p.A., where he was the Italian automaker's chief marketing officer and CEO of Alfa Romeo. He was promoted to the groupwide marketing post by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne after turning around the struggling Fiat brand. De Meo, 44, is credited with the successful European marketing launch of the Fiat 500 in 2007.
On Friday, Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, said he is stepping down after nearly 20 years with the brand.
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 the brand level. The company is aiming to purchase the second half of Porsche SE's carmaking operations and Audi in April bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati.
Bloomberg contributed to this storyContact Automotive News