MUNICH -- Markus Duesmann, who started as the automaker's boss in April, now has three additional roles at the automaker: R&D chief, responsibility for China and head of a newly created division to manage the Volkswagen Group subsidiary's 65 models.
Duesmann will succeed Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, 62, as Audi's board member for technical development, the company said Thursday. Rothenpieler steps down ending a 34-year career with VW Group that included stints at the VW, Bentley and Skoda brands.
Duesmann will "realign the premium brand’s development division with a special focus on process quality," Audi said in the release. The CEO will be assisted by Oliver Hoffmann, who becomes chief operating officer and will coordinate the day-to-day business of the development engineers, and Jan Michel, who start in the newly created position of chief transition architect.
Hoffmann will give up his currently roles of managing director of Audi Sport and head of technical development at Audi's plant in Neckarsulm, Germany. No successors for those job have been named yet, an Audi spokesman said in an emailed reply to questions. Michel is currently Audi's chief strategy officer. A successor for the job will be announced later.
Audi has had nearly a half dozen R&D chiefs in less than a decade. During that time Audi’s reputation as a technology pioneer suffered as its technology began to lag rivals, therefore, Duesmann is tasked with injecting new meaning into the brand's advertising slogan Vorsprung Durch Technik (advancement through technology).
Audi announced Duesmann's other addition roles on Friday.
As head of China he takes over tasks previously handled by Audi financial chief Arno Antlitz.
"I am looking forward to the task of further expanding our presence in our largest market and actively shaping the transformation process in the Chinese automotive industry together with Audi China and our Chinese partners,” Duesmann said.
Audi used to be the top-selling premium brand in China but has lost its lead to Mercedes-Benz.
Duesmann will also lead a newly created division to manage Audi's model range and its premium platform electric (PPE) project. The division currently does not have a name, an Audi spokesman said in an emailed reply to questions. The new division will have "intensified interfaces" with Audi's technical development division, the company said.
“This realignment strengthens the vehicle-project business and the strategic importance of the model series. It will enable us to focus even more strongly on our products within the company,” Duesmann said in the release.
New industry disrupters such as Tesla have overshadowed Audi and its German peers BMW and Mercedes.
Audi's role in VW Group's diesel emissions-rigging scandal also damaged its reputation. Audi engineers were accused of creating so-called "defeat" devices used to cheat diesel-emissions tests.