Bernd Pischetsrieder's transformation of Volkswagen 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 on November 23.
Pischetsrieder will formally succeed Ferdinand Piech as management board chairman next April. But he is putting his team together now.
There are some surprises.
* Volkswagen's board member for sales and marketing, 58-year old Robert Buchelhofer, will stay.
'He has just signed for two more years,' said a VW source.
Buchelhofer was expected to leave VW after Pischetsrieder takes over. The pair clashed when both were at BMW. Buchelhofer left BMW for VW in April 1995, a year after Pischetsrieder became BMW's CEO.
* VW product development boss Martin Winterkorn will take over Audi and also head a new 'southern' or 'sporty' brand division that will include Audi, Seat and Lamborghini.
* Franz-Josef Paefgen, chief executive of Audi AG, will probably resign. He has refused offers to replace Winterkorn as head of product development or else 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.
* Pischetsrieder himself will head the 'classic' or 'northern' brand division that will include Volkswagen, Skoda and Bentley.
* VW Brazil Chairman Herbert Demel will land a key job in the new Volkswagen. The former chairman of Audi will probably head product development for the VW, Skoda and Bentley brands. He was a candidate to lead the 'southern' brand division. But VW sources say Winterkorn balked at running Audi without the added responsibility for the entire division.
* Seat design director Walter de' Silva will replace Hartmut Warkuss, 61, as head of VW group design, though probably not until next spring. In the meantime, de' Silva will be a regular visitor to Wolfsburg, monitoring future VW group models. Pischetsrieder, who is currently Seat's chairman, likes and respects de' Silva, the former Alfa Romeo chief stylist whose designs helped revive the sporty Italian brand.
* Georg Flandorfer, head of sales and marketing at Audi, is expected to move to the 'northern' group in a top sales and marketing job.
* Lars-Henner Santelmann, Seat's vice president of sales and marketing, will likely move to Audi as head of sales and marketing for the three 'southern' brands.
* Jorn Hinrich, Seat's current marketing director, will shift to Wolfsburg in a key marketing position for the Volkswagen brand.
* Candidates to replace outgoing group communications head Klaus Kocks include BMW communications chief Richard Gaul and Porsche PR boss Anton Hunger, though both say they are not interested. The job may go to Dieter Schweer, head of corporate communications at German energy concern RWE Group.
Kocks' job will be handled temporarily by Stephan Gruhsem, who is expected to switch to Audi as the top PR executive.
* Tony Gott has resigned as chief executive of Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. Sources say Gott was actually fired because he disagreed with his bosses in Wolfsburg about the details and direction of the MSB (Mid Size Bentley) project.
The new brand division structure will give more independence to Audi to decide its product strategy, including how varying body styles based on common group-wide platforms will be divided between the brands. Seat sources are not unhappy about their future link with Audi.
'I see it as an advantage, because it takes away the confusion of our current role against Skoda,' said one Seat insider. 'With Audi, we will be able to develop our sporty image.'
The link with Audi may result in technical and strategic changes, he said.
'Until now, our development programs were closely linked with the Wolfsburg products, because we shared platforms and badge-engineered models with VW,' he said.
The new structure could lead to VW and Skoda dealers sharing showrooms. Ludger Fretzen, VW product marketing manager, said there would be little danger in such a combination.
'If a VW Polo and a Skoda Fabia share showrooms the public would not only notice the price difference but also the premium quality of Polo,' Fretzen said.
Skoda dealers have not been informed about changes in brand dealer policy. 'We only hear rumors,' one dealer said.
An Audi dealer said: 'We [VW and Audi] have only recently come together in one back office with two separate front offices, so I would be surprised if we had to split up again and continue with Seat.'