Volkswagen is replacing David Fleming as head of its troubled Brazilian division with Hans-Christian Maergner, the executive in charge of the car maker's South African unit, the company said on Tuesday, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.

Volkswagen did not say when Maergner will take over from Fleming, who will assume new unspecified responsibilities with Volkswagen, the report added.

AP noted that, while Volkswagen's subcompact Gol is Brazil's top-selling car, the company wants to regain its position as the country's top car producer.

After years as Brazil's leading car maker, Volkswagen is now in third place behind General Motors and - and has not posted a profit in Brazil since 1997, the news agency said.

Associated Press noted that VW met fierce opposition this year over a plan to cut 4,000 Brazilian workers while its sales in Latin America's largest country slumped significantly as interest rates hit sky-high levels and the Brazilian economy slipped into a recession during the first two quarters.

Volkswagen's third-quarter profits were cut in half in part because of a €120 million ($140US million) restructuring charge to pay for costs associated with the Brazilian job cuts, Associated Press said.