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VW Americas Chief Dodges Bullet

But CEO Horn gets a new boss, and management shake-up expected to continue.

by on Sep.29, 2015

Michael Horn, head of VW of America, was all smiles accepting the North American Car of the Year Trophy for the new VW Golf.

(This story corrects and expands upon an earlier story that had incorrectly reported VWoA CEO Michael Horn would lose his job in the U.S.)

Michael Horn, the head of Volkswagen’s U.S. operations, has dodged the bullet. But while he won’t find himself among the growing list of senior VW executives ousted in the wake of a diesel emissions testing scam, the VW veteran will find himself reporting to a new boss as part of a broader corporate shake-up.

Winfried Wahland, who has been overseeing Volkswagen AG’s Czech-based Skoda brand, has been named director of the new North American Region office, and he will take a seat on VWAG’s all-powerful Supervisory Board.

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Horn had been expected to lose his job in the wake of the scandal touched off by the discovery that Volkswagen had secretly rigged its small diesel engines to pass emissions tests. On the road, however, the so-called “defeat device” was programmed to permit the engines to produce as much as 40 times the permissible level of smog-causing oxides of nitrogen. (more…)

New VW CEO Mueller Faces Long List of Challenges

Immediate challenge rebuilding trust; rebuilding profits comes later.

by on Sep.25, 2015

New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller, shown during the debut of the Porsche Cayman.

As the new head of Volkswagen AG, Matthias Mueller will be overseeing the largest automaker in the world, a sprawling empire of brands and manufacturing facilities stretching from Beijing to Berlin. But that empire is also facing the biggest crisis in its 78-year history, one that some observers believe could destroy it.

The veteran Volkswagen executive, who until this morning was in charge of the Porsche brand, will now run the entire company, replacing Martin Winterkorn as CEO, Winterkorn forced out in the wake of the disclosure VW had been cheating on diesel emissions tests. Even as the VWAG board met to approve the 62-year-old Mueller’s promotion, authorities said the maker had rigged tests on 2.8 million diesel vehicles sold there, more than six times as many as have been impacted in the U.S.

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“He’s walking into a firestorm,” said analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting. But Phillippi stressed that even if Mueller can come up with a “fix-it plan,” VW’s troubles are far from over, “and are going to take years to resolve.”

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After Management Shake-Up, New VW Brand Boss Lays Out His Plans

Steady as she goes, says former BMW exec Herbert Diess.

by on Jul.10, 2015

Former BMW exec Herbert Diess took over as VW brand boss on July 1st.

After a bruising internal fight for control of the company, Volkswagen management is putting on a show of solidarity, hoping to calm internal jitters and, it would seem, skeptical analysts and investors.

The once-powerful Chairman Ferdinand Piech was pushed to resign in April in a dispute with his likely successor, CEO Martin Winterkorn. In turn, the chief executive is putting in place a major realignment that will effectively divide VW AG into a series of near-autonomous holding companies.

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The biggest will be run by Herbert Diess whom Winterkorn personally poached from rival BMW. In a Q&A published on the company’s internal website, Winterkorn and Diess outlined their plans for the future.

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Amidst Management Turmoil, VW Delivers Strong Earnings

German maker takes a sharp knife to costs.

by on Apr.29, 2015

VW scored a strong hit with the launch of its latest-generation Golf family.

While its boardroom may be racked with turmoil amidst the ouster of its long-time chairman, Volkswagen AG managed to salve investors’ concerns a bit with news that its first-quarter earnings rose 19%, to $3.23 billion.

The maker says it was able to cut costs “in the low triple-digit millions” during the January-to-March period, addressing a problem that had begun to worry analysts – and raise concerns within its boardroom. The maker also benefited from the nascent recovery of the European market which is just emerging from its worst downturn in decades.

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The numbers reported by the 12-brand Volkswagen Group came in ahead of what industry analysts had forecast and, with the maker forecasting continued growth ahead, it could bode well for the post-Piech era.

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VW Chairman Piech Unexpectedly Quits After Clash Over Company’s Future

Militant trade unionist named his acting replacement.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ferdinand Piech, grandson of VW's founder, resigned as chairman due to a dispute over his successor.

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech unexpectedly tendered his resignation over the weekend, capping a bitter battle over the future of the German automaker.

Piech, who has been credited with crafting the growth and acquisition strategy that transformed VW into the world’s second-largest car company, had clashed with other board members over his eventual successor. The 78-year-old Piech had openly criticized VW’s current CEO, and its likely next chairman, Martin Winterkorn.

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The upheaval at Volkswagen appears to bolster the hand of the German unions in running the company – and could alter the trajectory of the company’s drive to become the world’s largest automaker. VW came a hairsbreadth short of dislodging Japanese rival Toyota last year.

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“Generational Change” Seeds Shake-Up at BMW

Key executive jumps to VW; could be rival's next CEO.

by on Dec.09, 2014

Outgoing BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer shown during the launch of the BMW i3 battery-car.

BMW AG is in the midst of a major management realignment that will see a new CEO step-in, while its product development chief heads to a key competitor.

The moves announced earlier today together comprise one of the most significant shake-ups to roil the Bavarian maker since it was forced to sell off its failing British subsidiary Rover more than a decade ago.

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The loss of product boss Herbert Diess could be a particularly tough blow for BMW – but it is being seen as a major development for Volkswagen AG, where he is seen as a potential candidate for that maker’s top spot when its current CEO retires.

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Volkswagen’s Top US Executive Stepping Down

Browning’s departure comes as maker’s U.S. sales plunge.

by on Dec.13, 2013

VW Group CEO Jonathan Browning -- shown here at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

Volkswagen’s top American executive is leaving the automaker — a move that comes at a time the German maker is struggling to reverse an unexpectedly sharp slump in U.S. sales.

The 54-year-old Jonathan Browning’s departure comes just over two years after he took over Volkswagen Group of America at a time when a new plant in Tennessee and a flood of new product appeared to be driving the maker towards an ambitious goal of reaching 800,000 U.S. sales annually by 2018.

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But even as U.S. car sales have surged to their highest level in six years, Volkswagen has reported a 5.2% decline for the year, demand plunging an even more disconcerting 16% in November compared to year-earlier numbers.

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