Volkswagen R&D boss Frank Welsch has been promoted to head of Volkswagen Group quality management and strategy, with e-mobility boss Thomas Ulbrich stepping into his old role.
Welsch was instrumental in bringing the MEB electric vehicle architecture from concept to production, having been appointed as chief development officer in 2015 in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.
He has been employed by Volkswagen since 1994, initially concerned with concept car development before moving into a passenger car development position in 1998.
His early work was focused on developing body shells for the Mk5 Golf and Phaeton saloon, and he went on to become responsible for all body and door development on models including the Passat, CC, Eos, Sharan and Touareg.
Before heading up the MEB development programme, Welsch served as development boss at Volkswagen China and in a similar position at Skoda in Prague.
Welsch will now report directly to Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess in a newly created role designed to ensure consistent levels of quality across all Group brands.
“Our key aim is to have delighted customers throughout the entire life of the vehicle," said Welsch. "As we move toward e-mobility and digitalisation, many new opportunities will arise that will allow us to get even closer to our customers, their requirements and their preferences.
"This will range from the charging process through digital services down to the complete networking of the vehicle. Our new structure lays the foundations for taking systematic advantage of these opportunities within the Group alliance."
Ulbrich will succeed Welsch as chief development officer, having lead the brand's electrification efforts since 2018. His previous roles include head of logistics for Volkswagen factories in China and Germany, commercial vehicle production boss and technical executive vice-president at Shanghai Volkswagen.
Diess said: "Thomas Ulbrich has made his mark on the transformation of the Volkswagen brand toward e-mobility, and I'm pleased that, as chief development officer, he will continue to be a driving force in the brand’s digitalisation.”
Changes at the Group management level come as Sebastian Grams is named the new boss of Audi Sport, succeeding Oliver Hoffman and working in partnership with recently appointed managing director Julius Seebach.
Audi Sport's revised management team will focus on "shaping tomorrow's mobility in the high-performance segment," according to Hoffman, who continues to serve as its chairman.