The former boss of Skoda and newly appointed head of Volkswagen in the US, Winfried Vahland, is to step down over differences in strategy
14 October 2015

Skoda has confirmed that the Volkswagen Group’s new US-market chief, Winfried Vahland, is leaving the company less than two weeks after being appointed to his new role.

Vahland, who was CEO of Skoda until a fortnight ago, has had extensive experience in China and had been tipped as a future VW Group CEO candidate. He was put in charge of VW’s new North American division as part of the management restructure that brought in Matthias Müller to replace Martin Winterkorn as group boss.

However, differences over the new US-market strategy announced yesterday - including a switch to diesel motors using SCR and AdBlue technology - have prompted Vahland to leave the company.

In a statement, Skoda said Vahland was leaving the company at his own request and would not be taking up his US-based position, while also confirming that "this decision is expressly not related to current events on the issue of diesel engines."

Vahland started with the Volkswagen Group in 1990, rising to become boss of VW in China in 2005. He became boss of Skoda in 2010. "In the last 25 years, Prof. Vahland made a great contribution to the company," said Müller "We respect his decision and thank him for his exceptional performance."

Wider political forces within the VW Group management may also have influenced his decision; Vahland is said to have been the preferred VW Group CEO candidate of Winterkorn himself, whereas Müller was the choice of former VW leader Ferdinand Piech.

Read more on the Volkswagen emissions scandal:

Six things the firm could cut

Bugatti under threat as boss warns of 'painful' cuts

Blog - navel gazing at Volkswagen

Blog - Keeping up with pollution laws is not always easy for car makers

Blog - How Volkswagen can survive its emissions scandal

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate


14 October 2015
Diesel is dead in the USA for private cars, isn't it?

14 October 2015
I don't blame him. One would rather be hanged than have anything to do with Volkswagen in the US.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Dallara Stradale
    The Stradale is the first road-legel car from Italian motorsport constructor Dallara
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    The motorsport constructor's first road car is inspired by Lotus minimalism. Does it thrill on road and track?
  • Hyundai i30 N
    Standard spec is good so paint colour is our car’s only option
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    What’s Hyundai’s first hot hatch and N-brand debutant really like? Let’s find out
  • Porsche Boxster GTS
    This is the new GTS version of the Porsche Boxster
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The 718-generation Boxster is our favourite roadster of the moment – so is this new GTS variant worth the extra outlay?
  • BMW 5 Series
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The BMW 5 Series is top of the mid-exec pack, but is there still room for a diesel saloon in everyday family life?
  • Audi A7 front
    First Drive
    14 March 2018
    The new Audi A7 Sportback looks the part, but how does the new Mercedes-Benz CLS rival cope on UK roads? We find out