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.
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