Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler will become the management board member for technical development at Audi on 1 November 2018, replacing Peter Mertens, who has held this position since 1 May 2017. Mertens had asked the supervisory board to release him from his duties for health reasons.

Volkswagen CEO and Audi board chairman Herbert Diess said: "We deeply regret that Peter Mertens is stepping down from the board of management. We respect the reasons that led to his decision and wish him a full recovery. Rothenpieler is an experienced expert who will continue to advance the transformation of technical development."

Mertens said: "Over the past 16 months, we have initiated a comprehensive transformation at technical development and started the future orientation of the division. This requires a high level of concentration, which I cannot fully manage in my situation. During this time, my health and my family have priority. I thank everyone at Audi for their commitment, their support and the great cooperation I have experienced during this time."

Diess added: "Rothenpieler has gained a great deal of experience in his numerous responsible positions at the group, which will help him to make a start quickly in his new position at Audi."

Rothenpieler has been with the VW group since 1986. Previous positions include head of vehicle development at Skoda, technical development board member at Bentley, and board member for development at VW Commercial Vehicles. Since 2016, he has been head of group quality management at Volkswagen.