Wolfgang Dürheimer will become chairman and chief executive officer of Bentley from 1 June 2014
Among Dürheimer’s key roles at Porsche was leading the engineering the first and second generations of the Porsche Cayenne. This experience – coupled with Bentley’s decision to add an SUV to its line-up – is said to be the motivating factor behind the move. Volkswagen boss, Martin Winterkorn, took the decision to return Dürheimer to the leading position at Bentley.
Dürheimer’s primary tasks at Bentley will be to oversee the engineering of a new generation of models, including the company’s recently announced SUV.
The new Bentley SUV is planned to share its platform and key elements with the third-generation Cayenne due out in 2017.
He will manage the introduction of a new generation of drivelines too, including new diesel and petrol-electric hybrid units.
In his new position, Dürheimer will also oversee operations at Bugatti. Additionally, he has also been appointed to an in-house Volkswagen committee responsible for the North American and Chinese markets.
In 1986 Dürheimer joined BMW, holding various management positions until he joined Porsche in 1999. Later, following the creation of new models that revived the Porsche brand, he was appointed CEO of Bentley and Bugatti.
During 2012 he was appointed to the board of Audi as head of technical development but was eventually replaced by the VW brand's head of development, Ulrich Hackenberg. It was reported, at the time, that Dürheimer "couldn't cope with the complexity of the Audi brand".
Bentley expanded considerably in 2013, with deliveries up 19 per cent to 10,120 vehicles and sales up 15.5 per cent to £1.39 billion. The company's profit also improved considerably, by a substantial 66.9 per cent to £138.6 million.
Deliveries have continued to climb in the first quarter of 2014, by 17 per cent, thanks to the introduction of new models, including the Flying Spur and the high-performance S variants of the GT and GTC.
Additional reporting by Greg Kable, 15 April 2014