WOLFSBURG -- New Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said he will consider asset sales and pledged to speed up the automaker's decision-making as it confronts a seismic industry change in technology while moving beyond its diesel-emissions scandal.
Speaking at his first news conference as chief executive at VW's headquarters here, Diess said he would look at the different assets in VW Group's portfolio, which includes motorcycle firm Ducatti and transmission maker Renk, and review whether keeping them makes sense.
"We will review all options," Diess said, adding that this could include investing in the businesses or pursuing a sale.
Diess also said that VW would streamline into a more compact structure. The manufacturer will create a new chief operating officer post for the VW passenger-car brand to alleviate Diess's workload. "I’m confident that by selecting the right COO a lot of things will work right even without my direct involvement," Diess said.
The reorganization focuses power in Diess's hands, as he will also gain oversight of group r&d plus what the automaker is calling “Vehicle IT,” or connectivity.
Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter will add responsibility for corporate IT, while Rupert Stadler, the head of the Audi luxury division, will additionally manage group sales and Porsche unit chief Oliver Blume will oversee production for the group.
The supervisory board approved sweeping corporate changes, including the promotion of VW-brand head Diess to the group's top post, at a four-hour meeting Thursday evening. The most significant structural decision paves the way for a stand-alone stock listing of the trucks division with assets that Evercore ISI estimates at as much as 30 billion euros ($37 billion).
Friday's news conference concludes a tumultuous week sparked by a cryptic statement Tuesday about now former CEO Matthias Mueller's future that made no mention of a broader revamp.
Mueller's abrupt exit after less than three years, even after a stellar improvement in VW Group's earnings, stems from key stakeholders' decision to bring in fresh leadership as the company emerges from its diesel emissions-rigging crisis.
Diess will focus on making the 640,000-employee behemoth more nimble to contend with a shift to electric and autonomous cars and new digital services such as ride-hailing.
Diess conceded that the diesel scandal, which erupted in September 2015, will continue having effects for a few more years. Provisions for recalling or buying back cars and paying fines and other penalties have amounted to 25 billion euros, and the carmaker is still contending with lawsuits.
"We've lost a great deal of trust with customers," Diess said. "It will be a long, rough road to gain it back."
Aside from separating the trucks unit, VW plans to regroup its 12 vehicle brands into four groups to forge closer ties between similar nameplates like mass-market Skoda and Seat. VW Group Chairman Hans-Dieter Poetsch said that, whatever moves the company makes with the truck operation, VW won't cede control of the division.
Diess added that VW was open to alliances in areas like self-driving cars. "I would not rule out further partnerships. Autonomous driving requires immense investments."
Bloomberg, Reuters and Automotive New Europe contributed to this report