Currently reading: Editor's letter: Thomas Schafer is taking VW to new heights
A year in, the friendly and approachable German exec has more than found his feet

It's rare to get to talk to car executives early on in their tenures, usually for fear of them not being up to speed or speaking without all the facts at their disposal.

But last August presented a rare opportunity to speak to a CEO who had been in their job for just over a month, when I met VW CEO Thomas Schäfer at a Car of the Year test drive event for the then new VW ID Buzz.

I was expecting a dead bat, with plenty of niceties and lots of general terms, yet instead found a man who was prepared to not only lay out what was wrong with the brand but also how he was going to fix it. 

It was the first time we heard of Schäfer’s plan to “make VW a loved brand again”, a phrase that felt quite the bombshell when we first heard it, but so invested is VW into realising it that it has even been adopted by the brand in its communications.

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