Volkswagen brand is readying the launches of a raft of new products in Europe including the new Golf and the T-Cross small SUV. Chief Operating Officer Ralf Brandstaetter outlined his priorities for the brand in his first interview as COO. He recently met with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
How would you describe your role as chief operating officer?
When Herbert Diess became head of both the brand and then the group, there was a concern that due to the broad range of topics he would face, certain things might fall through the cracks. It’s my job to guarantee that the daily business is running smoothly, so he can focus on developing and executing the group and brand strategy. I am steering the brand across and together with all departments so that we achieve our goals as fast as possible and fully exploit the synergies and full potential of the Volkswagen brand.
Do the other functional heads report to you or to Diess?
When it comes to daily operational issues, I have a cross-functional responsibility and operational lead with regard to the VW brand management board members. As COO I will not interfere in their specific fields.
How will you set your priorities?
Our departments are closely interlocked. Therefore, we need to work more closely than before across all areas. Our joint goal is to find the optimum solution in terms of continuously tapping new growth potential and improve our profitability while we achieve our one overarching goal -- manufacturing great cars in as short a time as possible with the quality customers have come to expect from us.
What role do you play in VW Group’s Volume Brand Group, the new construct that includes Skoda and Seat along with the VW marque?
Each brand is represented by a CEO, CFO and strategy team in the committee. In the case of VW, I represent VW while Herbert Diess leads the group [as chairman].
What benefits does this new organization bring?
We want to achieve synergies not just within the brand but across the brand group. A good example of what the future will hold are the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca. Both are built in the same eastern European factory [in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic] using the same supply chain, so we can generate substantial synergies, yet for the customer they are totally different models. You also see this in Wolfsburg with the Seat Tarraco joining the VW Tiguan on the assembly line.