Former BMW executive and incoming Audi CEO Markus Duesmann will be tasked with injecting new meaning into the company's advertising slogan Vorsprung Durch Technik (Advancement Through Technology) after Audi fired several senior engineers for their alleged part in parent Volkswagen Group's diesel emissions-rigging scandal.
Duesmann, 50, will take charge of Audi on April 1. He will also have board-level responsibility for r&d at VW Group.
Current Audi chief Bram Schot, 58, will leave the company by "amicable mutual agreement" on March 31, VW Group said in a statement on Friday.
Duesmann is an engine development expert and a former head of purchasing at BMW.
"Markus Duesmann will do everything to unlock the huge potential of the Audi brand," VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said at a press conference in Wolfsburg on Friday.
Audi was a major r&d hub within VW Group, setting standards in aerodynamic efficiency, lightweight aluminum construction, dual-clutch transmission technology and four-wheel-drive systems.
But the premium brand struggled after it was discovered that engine management software, used to manipulate exhaust emissions tests at VW, was designed by Audi engineers, leading to the firing of engineering chiefs and its longtime CEO, Rupert Stadler.
"We don't need little 'Vorsprung' stories, we need real 'Vorsprung' stories," Audi's current head of r&d, Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, told Reuters.
The e-tron full-electric car as well as fuel cell technology are two pillars upon which Audi can resurrect its brand claim, Rothenpieler said.