Matthias Müller Porsche

VW scandal: Matthias Müller becomes CEO, priority is to ‘win back trust’

Matthias Müller PorschePorsche AG chairman Matthias Müller has been named as Volkswagen Group CEO and has immediately promised to win back the trust of customers.

Müller, who will continue as Porsche chairman until a replacement is found, has promised to “leave no stone unturned” and will conduct his investigation into the dieselgate scandal “with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.

“Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.

He is confident Volkswagen Group will emerge as a better, stronger company, too.

“If we manage to achieve that then the Volkswagen Group with its innovative strength, its strong brands and above all its competent and highly motivated team has the opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”

It’s also been confirmed that VW US boss Michael Horn will remain in his role; he was the first senior VW official to speak out about the emissions scandal, admitting “we totally screwed up”.

Horn is believed to command strong support among US dealers.

Volkswagen Group restructures

After announcing Müller’s appointment, the supervisory board also revealed a surprisingly comprehensive corporate restructuring. Its interim chairman Berthold Huber said it “strengthens the brands and regions”, and will help the development of more focused strategy within the divisions.

Here are the key changes summarised:

North America region

USA, Canada and Mexico are merged, led by current Skoda chairman Prf. Dr. Winfried Vahland. He’ll be replaced at Skoda by Porsche’s sales and marketing chief Bernharm Maier.

Porsche brand group with Bentley and Bugatti

This is similar to the Audi brand group with Lamborghini and Bugati: Porsche will take the lead in developing modular architectures for sportscars and mid-engine cars. A separate department is being set up for it, but its CEO has yet to be announced (Müller remains its head for the time being).

Dedicated structure for efficiency and ‘future-oriented’ fields

Volkswagen will become more agile, says Huber, through the establishment of better structures to develop and launch new tech. A chief technology officer will “analyse and, if necessary, co-steer technical developments throughout the Group as mandated by the Group Board of Management”. If Müller’s team say it’s a priority, it becomes a priority. Which may be critical in the months to come…

Streamlined Group Board of Management

Brands will have more responsibility, which means the production division at Group level is being abolished. Revealing that this is a development that was underway before #dieselgate, Huber said: “In recent weeks, we have already undertaken important steps such as separating Group and Brand functions.” Dieselgate “underscored the urgency of this”. These changes will be implemented by the start of 2016

Other changes

The firm said that Volkswagen AG board member member for sales and marketing Christian Klingler is leaving the brand – due to differences with business strategy, not as a result of recent events. His place will be taken by SEAT chairman Jürgen Stackmann; Audi board member for sales and marketing Luca de Meo will now lead SEAT.

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