A former German transport minister, and member of the Christian Democrat party, Matthias Wissmann, has been chosen to head the powerful German automotive industry trade association, the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA).


The German press agency reported on Friday that Wissmann will take over as president of the VDA on Friday, succeeding Bernd Gottschalk, who resigned suddenly around two weeks ago.


Gottschalk was blamed for not representing the industry strongly enough in the debate about reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. The German automotive industry has been portrayed as one that does little or nothing to care for the environment, and instead VDA members want to show that they have been investing heavily in developing more fuel efficient vehicles.


The VDA will hold a special meeting on Monday (26 March) in Berlin to officially elect the new president.


Wissmann has reportedly been chosen because of his immense experience in transport politics and because he has highly effective communications skills.


Other candidates for the position are reported to have been DaimlerChrysler chief Dieter Zetsche, Porsche chairman Wendelin Wiedeking and new VW CEO Martin Winterkorn.


A report in a German newspaper at the weekend said that Wiedeking would take up the post from 1 June, and at the same time would resign from the German parliament.


The VDA needs a new president soon. The European Commission is conducting an impact assessment of its proposed CO2 emissions limits, and the VDA hosts the world’s largest motor show in Frankfurt in September.


VDA presidents generally come up for re-election every two years.


The German press agency could not get the VDA to confirm that there would be a special meeting on Monday. Nor would it discuss the names of any candidates.


Wissmann’s reported appointment has been viewed positively by Germany’s environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democrat (SPD) party. Gabriel has been critical of the way the German automotive industry has reacted to proposed CO2 emissions limts. He said Wissmann brings a wealth of experience of transport politics and knows his way around the European institutions.