Diess plans far-reaching power grab as new CEO of Volkswagen

Volkswagen is replacing chief executive Matthias Mueller along with several other top managers and announcing a new structure it said would enable faster decision-making as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry.

Volkswagen's supervisory board wants to reorganise the way passenger auto brands, trucks and buses are grouped, in a bid to increase its development and engineering synergies and improve the German carmaker's competitiveness.

"In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services", Diess said.

For Volkswagen its the biggest overhaul since it became a multi-brand conglomerate under former chief executive Ferdinand Piech, a grandson of VW Beetle designer Ferdinand Porsche. The move is part of an effort to reorganize the company to do business more efficiently, the company said.

Gunnar Kilian, from the company's works council, becomes group head of human resources, succeeding Karlheinz Blessing, who will be available as a consultant until his contract expires.

Diess currently heads the firm's namesake Volkswagen division, but now takes over a larger parent company that owns brands including Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

Volkswagen's MAN Turbo and Renk units will also be put into a separate division, the source said.

Diess was the subject of speculation as a possible successor to Winterkorn when he arrived at Volkswagen from BMW less than three months before Winterkorn's sudden departure left the company needing a new CEO in a hurry.

Volkswagen's board member for procurement Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz will leave his post, the sources further said.

Volkswagen's deliberations come as rival carmakers and suppliers including Fiat and Daimler work on ways to slim down and divest non-core assets.

Diess, Stadler and Blume will also take charge of the new groups Volume, Premium and Super Premium respectively, VW said, without giving more details.

A VW supervisory board source told Reuters that Volkswagen was planning pool management of all its sportscar brands except for Audi under a planned revamp created to hike profitability.

Oliver Blume, head of sports vehicle brand Porsche and newly appointed to the group executive board, will oversee production at the multi-brand organization, VW said, confirming a Reuters report.

  • Anthony Vega