Volkswagen has appointed industry veteran Jonathan Browning the new chief executive officer of its U.S. subsidiary, filling a critical vacancy created by the unexpected departure of Volkswagen of America CEO Stefan Jacoby, who left unexpectedly in June.
It comes as something of a homecoming for Browning, who has lived in the U.S. twice – once to earn an MBA from Duke University – and who previously worked for both General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
“We know we have a lot of work to do,” Browning declared during a news conference at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., not far from the automaker’s suburban U.S. headquarters. Noting that VW aims to boost sales to 800,000 by 2018, the new CEO said, “We have set ourselves some big goals, but I am confident we can do this.”
With an expertise in marketing and sales, the 51-year-old Browning has had something of an unusual career for a European automotive executive, moving from one maker to another a number of times since launching his career at General Motors in 1981. He eventually left for Ford, where he served as Managing Director of Jaguar from 1997 through 2001. He eventually returned to GM, but left following the maker’s plunge into bankruptcy.
In June of this year, Browning resurfaced, this time at Volkswagen headquarters, in Wolfsburg, Germany, where he was put in charge of national sales efforts for all 10 of the company’s brands. It was a plumb assignment overseeing sales that have risen, on a global scale to 6 million annually.