Bernd Pischetsrieder's transformation of Volkswagen AG begins this week.
VW's next CEO will push through major changes to the corporate structure and fill crucial new jobs at a supervisory board meeting scheduled for Friday, Nov. 23.
Pischetsrieder will succeed Ferdinand Piech as management board chairman next April, but he is putting his team together now. There will be some surprises:The board member for sales and marketing, 58-year old Robert Buechelhofer, will stay. Buechelhofer was expected to leave VW after Pischetsrieder takes over because the two clashed when they were at BMW. Buechelhofer defected to VW in April 1995, a year after Pischetsrieder became BMW's CEO.VW product development boss Martin Winterkorn will take over Audi and head a new "southern" or "sporty" brand division that will include Audi, Seat and Lamborghini. Pischetsrieder will head the "classic" or "northern" brand division that will include Volkswagen, Skoda and Bentley.Franz-Josef Paefgen, Audi's CEO, is expected to resign. He has refused offers to replace Winterkorn as head of product development or to run VW operations in either South America or China. He is expected to take a post at Aachen Technical University in Germany until becoming CEO of a supplier.Herbert Demel, chairman of Volkswagen do Brasil, is expected to succeed Buechelhofer as head of product development for the VW, Skoda and Bentley brands. The former Audi chairman was a candidate to lead the southern brand division.Seat design director Walter de' Silva will replace Hartmut Warkuss, 61, who is retiring as head of VW group design. Pischetsrieder, who is Seat's chairman, likes and respects de' Silva, the former Alfa Romeo chief stylist whose designs helped revive the sporty Italian brand.BMW communications chief Richard Gaul and Porsche PR boss Anton Hunger have emerged as candidates to replace Klaus Kocks, who will resign as head of VW Group communications. Gaul and Hunger say they are not interested.
Pischetsrieder's new brand division structure will give Audi more independence to decide its product strategy, including how varying body styles based on common group-wide platforms will be divided between the brands. And Seat sources are not unhappy about their future link with Audi.
Said one Seat insider: "I see it as an advantage, because it takes away the confusion of our current role against Skoda. With Audi, we will be able to develop our sporty image."