Audi shuffles top sales execs in Europe, China, Germany
FRANKFURT -- Audi sales chief Luca de Meo has shuffled top executives in Europe, China and Germany, the three regions where the brand has its biggest unit sales.
Starting Feb. 1, the current sales bosses for Germany, Michael Renz, and Europe, excluding Germany, Wayne Griffiths, will exchange positions, while sales in China, Audi's No. 1 market, will be run by Qing Pan, currently executive vice president of the China unit.
The moves are part of Audi's push to boost sales in the key markets, which all grew last year, including Europe, despite an overall decline in the market to a level not seen for nearly two decades.
Wayne Griffiths will take charge of German sales.
De Meo, 45, joined Audi's management board in September as part of a drive by Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn to reduce the average age of the brand's board and enable Audi to compete more aggressively against BMW, according to German media reports. Audi aims to dethrone BMW as the world's top-selling luxury carmaker.
De Meo replaced Peter Schwarzenbauer, 53, who left the VW Group. According to reports, Schwarzenbauer clashed with VW Group sales and marketing chief Christian Klingler.
Michael Renz has been tasked with running European sales, excluding Germany.
In a statement, de Meo said the executive shuffle was aimed at strengthening Audi in key regions by "increasing the local responsibility."
Wayne Griffiths, 46, joined Audi in 1993 and has held a number of senior sales roles including responsibility for the overseas region and for northern and western European markets. In 2005, he was promoted to head of European sales, excluding Germany.
Qing Pan, currently executive vice president in China, will assume responsibility for sales in Audi's No. 1 market.
Michael Renz, 55, an executive at the automaker since 1994, has held various senior sales roles in the overseas region, Middle East and southern Europe, as well as heading central marketing at Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. He has been in charge of sales and marketing in the German market since 2009.
Qing Pan, 45, has been a manager at VW Group in Asia since 2006. With the transfer to Pan of key sales functions that are located in Ingolstadt, the responsibility for Audi's biggest single market will be more focused in the future, Audi said. Last year, Pan was named executive vice president of the premium brand in China.
Earlier this month, Audi reported that sales in China jumped 30 percent to 405,838 vehicles last year, a new record for the brand. In Audi's No. 2 market, Germany, deliveries rose 4 percent to 263,163, beating a drop of 2.9 percent to 3.08 million in the overall German market, the lowest level for two years.
In Audi's European market, excluding Germany, sales rose 2 percent to 739,000 in 2012.
With a global volume of 1.45 million last year, Audi sold more vehicles than rival brand Mercedes-Benz, which announced deliveries of 1.32 million. BMW brand remained the best-selling premium carmaker worldwide in 2012 after announcing sales of 1.54 million.
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