Volkswagen AG has filled two senior management posts that will have important roles to play in the group's plan for overtaking Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's biggest automaker by 2018.
At its Wolfsburg headquarters, VW will bring in veteran Porsche executive Andreas Offermann to take charge of the group's national sales companies, which directly oversee dealers in 153 countries. The 54-year-old marketing expert, currently head of sales coordination at Porsche AG, will assume his new post April 1.
The oversight post has been vacant since last October, when 51-year-old Jonathan Browning left to become CEO of Volkswagen of America. Browning, former head of worldwide sales and marketing at General Motors, was hired for the newly created post on June 1, 2010, and occupied it for barely four months.
Offermann will report to VW Group sales and marketing chief Christian Klinger.
“Our growth and increasing market dynamics present demanding challenges in terms of coordinating our sales companies,” Klinger said in a statement. “The national sales companies work in direct contact with dealers, thereby ensuring the implementation of sales targets. They are therefore a key factor in Volkswagen's success.”
Offermann joined Porsche as head of export sales in 1994; in 1999 he was given responsibility for coordinating all sales activities. He joined Porsche from BMW AG, where he held various senior management posts, including head of product and volume planning.
Changes in Russia
Meanwhile, in Moscow, VW named 43-year-old Marcus Osegowitsch to become head of Russia operations effective Jan. 1. Osegowitsch, who moves up from head of sales to general director of VW Group Rus, joined VW in 2006 and was appointed head of the group supply chain in 2007. A former consultant, he succeeds Dietmar Korzekwa, 60, who has retired after 30 years with VW.
Osegowitsch will now be responsible for growing VW's sales in the fast-rebounding Russian market, widely considered to be one of the world's “must” emerging markets for automakers along with China, India and Brazil.
Russia had been on track to overtake Germany as Europe's biggest car market before the global economic crisis sparked a sales collapse in 2009. But auto executives say Russia is once again a key growth opportunity for the global industry because of its vast population, improving economy and low number of vehicles per inhabitant.
The Association of European Businesses, which tallies vehicle sales in the country, said Russians are expected to buy about 2.24 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2011, up 17 percent over 2010, and nearly 3 million in 2012. Sales last year jumped 30 percent over 2009 to 1.91 million units.
Sales of VW Group, which markets the VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands in Russia, jumped 40 percent over 2009 to 131,312 units, according to the AEB.
Along with Osegowitsch, VW also named a new manager for its Kaluga plant, cornerstone of the group's expansion plans in Russia. Josef Baumert, a 45-year-old production engineer who also holds a doctorate in biology, moves to Kaluga from Wolfsburg, where he is responsible for location planning and heads the Group's body construction working committee.
He will inherit a significant challenge. Volkswagen expects to produce some 150,000 VW- and Skoda-brand cars at the Kaluga plant this year, up from about 100,000 in 2010, but will strain its capacity at those levels. To meet its goal of selling as many as 360,000 locally produced cars a year by 2017-2018, Volkswagen is considering installing a second line in Kaluga or contracting production to another automaker, Russia's GAZ.
GAZ says it expects to have an agreement to build cars for VW at its underused plant in Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles (about 400km) east of Moscow, by the end of February. VW has not confirmed that statement.
VW also named a new Human Resources director for Kaluga's 3,000 employees, triggering a cascade of appointments at other locations.
In Kaluga, Henry Mehnert, 58, will take over from 54-year-old Jaroslav Holecek as head of the human resources and industrial relations department, effective Feb. 1. He has been HR director at Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH since May 2008.
Holecek, who has been Kaluga's HR director since September 2008, will be reassigned within the group.
Mehnert will be succeeded at Sachsen by 42-year-old Arne Meiswinkel, who moves to his new posting from Volkswagen's Brunswick plant. He in turn will be succeeded by Sebastian Patta, 45, who moves to Brunswick from VW-brand HR in Wolfsburg, where he is responsible for health and occupational safety matters for all German locations.