FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn told staff about a planned restructuring that will give the automaker's brands and regional chiefs more responsibility to make the company more responsive to industry and customer changes.
"Volkswagen must become faster, more flexible and more agile," Winterkorn told about 10,000 employees in a staff gathering at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Wednesday. "Volkswagen must make its decision-making model fit for the future," he said.
VW Group's 12 brands include Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini, as well as the mass-market VW, Skoda and Seat marques and Scania and MAN heavy truck makers.
The carmaker's group sales fell for a second month in May and at a faster pace than in April, highlighting its difficulties in some markets. "Big markets like South America, Russia, China and the United States pose big new challenges for the whole industry," Winterkorn said in remarks relayed by VW.
The company's trouble spots were laid bare by an April showdown between former chairman Ferdinand Piech and Winterkorn that led to Piech's surprise exit.
Winterkorn didn't comment on specifics of the reorganization. "Our company is much more than the sum of its parts," he said. "That requires the right balance between central leadership and even more independence."
VW plans to reorganize its corporate structure into four holding companies, according to company sources. The VW, Skoda and Seat brands will be run by former BMW manager Herbert Diess who joins the automaker on July 1. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler will lead the Audi, Lamborghini and Ducati brands. Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti will be grouped under current Porsche boss Matthias Mueller. VW commercial vehicles and Scania and MAN will be led by former Daimler trucks boss Andreas Renschler.
VW intends to finalize the structure over the summer with the goal of getting supervisory board approval in September, company sources say.
The company is evaluating whether it still needs separate executives for sales, production and the Chinese market, sources said earlier this week.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report