The Volkswagen Group has made sweeping personnel changes as the fallout from its dieselgate scandal continues, including new research and development and design bosses.
As part of the group’s realignment in the wake of the scandal, which boss Matthias Müller said last week would be used as a “catalyst for change,” the group has made a number of new appointments.
Ulrich Eichhorn returns to VW as the firm’s new research and development chief, succeeding Ulrich Hackenberg, who stepped down last month. Eicchorn was previously head of research at VW Group from 2000-2003, before going to Bentley as a board member. He was appointed as managing director of the German Association of the Automotive Industry in 2012.
Michael Mauer will officially succeed Walter de Silva as head of VW Group design, in addition to his current position as lead designer at Porsche. Mauer began his career at Mercedes-Benz in 1986, before moving to Saab in 2000 and General Motors Europe in 2003. He has been at Porsche since 2004, with credits including the Porsche Cayenne, Porsche Panamera and 918 Spyder.
Head of Audi’s concept designs Ralf Gerhard-Willner has been placed in charge of leading VW’s modular toolkit growth. This is known to be a key area of development as part of the group’s new strategy.
Current head of group series Fred Kappler has also been appointed the head of sales, while Wolfram Thomas is now in charge of production for the group.
Announcing the changes, Müller said: “These structural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency. The Group Board of Management can focus more closely than previously on overarching issues of the future, safeguard cross-brand synergies and further develop overall strategy.
“The team in the CEO's area of responsibility is almost complete, with excellent colleagues from within and outside the Group taking up the new posts.
“We are focusing in particular on the technological changes that impact the future of mobility – from electrification to the digital transformation. Our goal is to play a decisive role in shaping the transformation of the automobile. Our new lean structure will enable us to develop the considerable potential of our Company, its brands and employees to great effect. We will see faster decision-making and more efficient action."
All of the new appointments will take place early next year.