The Volkswagen supervisory board on Friday (17 November) agreed to appoint Martin Winterkorn as chairman of the board of management from 1 January.

The board also agreed that Bernd Pischetsrieder would quit the board on 31 December but would continue "to work for the group and will assume functions in the interests of the group".

One of those functions may be representing Volkswagen in a merger of MAN and Scania, according to recent speculation in the German press.

The board will later decide Winterkorn's replacement as chairman of Audi. They are likely to announce that appointment after their next meeting on 8 December.

Wolfgang Bernhard's position in the company apparently was not discussed. There had been much speculation that Bernhard, a close ally of Pischetsrieder, would resign ahead of the meeting. In fact, Winterkorn and Bernard travelled together to the Beijing motor show where Bernhard, representing the Volkswagen brand, launched new models to the press while Winterkorn delivered a speech on the neighbouring Audi stand, according to dpa-AFX.

At the Friday meeting, VW's supervisory board also discussed the group's financial and capital expenditure plans for 2007 to 2009.

Volkswagen will invest EUR24.7bn in the automotive division during the period. In addition to investments in property, plant and equipment, funds have been allocated for additional capital development costs and investments in financial assets.

EUR17.7bn of the total amount will be accounted for by investments in property, plant and equipment, of which EUR10.7bn will be invested in Germany alone. After a relatively low capex/revenue ratio in recent years, this ratio will be maintained at a competitive long-term level of below 6%, as in the previous planning round, Volkswagen said in a statement.

At EUR11.8bn, the bulk of the group's spending on property, plant and equipment for the automotive division will be devoted to modernising and expanding the group's product range. The focus will be on successor models and new derivatives in almost all market segments, and will enable the group to systematically continue its new model rollout to ensure even greater market penetration, the statement added.

New generation petrol engines will deliver improved performance, fuel consumption and reduced emissions while all diesel engines will switch to common rail technology. Production capacity for double clutch automatic gearboxes (VW calls its current BorgWarner-designed transmissions 'DSG' for direct-shift gearbox) will be increased in line with growing demand.

The supervisory board also on Friday approved the management board's plans to build an Indian assembly plant in north Pune city in Maharashtra state. Current plans call for a plant employing around 2,500 people to start production of a small passenger car in the second half of 2009.

Volkswagen said it chose the Pune region for its investment because of its economic environment, good logistics links and well established supplier structure. The region also has well qualified potential employees available.

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