Volkswagen‘s Supervisory Board has approved a new management structure for the group and the brands as well as for the North America region. The move came as the company reeled under the ongoing impact of the diesel emissions scandal and appointed a company veteran, Matthias Muller, as new CEO to replace Martin Winterkorn.
Interim Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Berthold Huber, said: “The new structure strengthens the brands and regions, gives the Group Board of Management the necessary leeway for strategy and steering within the company, and lays a focus on the targeted development of future-oriented fields.”
Reorganisation of the North America region
The Supervisory Board decided on the reorganisation of the Group’s activities in North America. The markets in the USA, Mexico, and Canada will be combined and ‘strengthened’ to form a new North America region. Effective November 1, the Group’s activities in the region will be led by Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland (58), formerly Chairman of the Board of Directors at Škoda, who in this new role becomes a member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management. Prof. Vahland’s successor as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Škoda will be Bernhard Maier (55), until now Board Member for Sales and Marketing of Porsche AG. Michael Horn (52) remains President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America (there was some speculation that he might have to go).
Porsche brand group with Bentley and Bugatti
VW said that at group level the management structure will be oriented “more systematically to the modular toolkits”. These toolkits feature standardised technical components for each automotive vehicle segment (volume, premium, sport and commercial vehicles). Consequently, a Porsche brand group with Bentley and Bugatti will be established for the sportscar and mid-engine toolkit. The toolkit strategy will come under the even closer guidance of the Group CEO; a separate department will be set up for this purpose. The Audi brand group with Lamborghini and Ducati will be continued as will the Truck Holding, and the Power Engineering and Financial Services business lines. The volume brands Volkswagen (with principal responsibility for the modular transverse toolkit), SEAT, and Škoda will be represented by one member each in the Group Board of Management.
New group functions for efficiency and future-oriented fields
VW said that group functions will concentrate “more closely on efficiency and future-oriented fields”; organizational units, for example for group product strategy, new business fields, cooperations and holdings, connected car activities, and CO2 steering, will therefore be set up.
According to Huber, “new, strong group functions, such as for standardisation and harmonised production processes, will lay the timely foundations for efficient decision-making. We will become faster and more agile.” Furthermore, a Chief Technology Officer will analyse and, if necessary, co-steer technical developments throughout the Group as mandated by the Group Board of Management.
Upgrading of brands and regions
At the same time, existing corporate bodies, structures and processes will be streamlined at group level, in particular by strengthening the brands and regional accountability. To that end the Volkswagen brand will introduce a management structure with four regions, each led by a local CEO with a direct reporting line to the brand Chairman, Herbert Diess.
Streamlining the Group Board of Management
The production department at group level, until now led by Thomas Ulbrich in an interim capacity, will be abolished with immediate effect. This is one consequence of delegating responsibility to the brands and regions. Berthold Huber commented: “Going forward, the brands and regions will also have greater independence with regard to production. So it follows that they should also hold the responsibility for these activities.”
The interim Supervisory Board Chairman emphasised that “one key point is that we are scaling back complexity in the group. In recent weeks, we have already undertaken important steps such as separating group and brand functions.” He said the developments of the last few days had underscored the urgency of this project: “We will not lose any time. The new management model will be implemented at the beginning of 2016.” This would bring the board greater freedom to address urgent issues concerning Group strategy, development and steering.
Further Board of Management changes
The Supervisory Board extended the contract with Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz (58), Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft with responsibility for Procurement, by five years.
Christian Klingler (47), member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft with responsibility for Sales and Marketing and member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management with responsibility for Sales and Marketing, is leaving the company with immediate effect as part of long-term planned structural changes and as a result of differences with regard to business strategy. This is not related to recent events. The new CEO Matthias Müller will head the Sales department at Group level in an interim capacity until further notice.
Jürgen Stackmann (54), previously Chairman of SEAT, will take over Christian Klingler’s function as a member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management. Stackmann is succeeded by Luca de Meo (48), currently Audi AG Board of Management member for Sales and Marketing. These personnel changes become effective from October 1.