Porsche boss takes over as head of Volkswagen Group

He had been in the hot seat for months for his forced march towards electric and connected cars. He will be replaced in September by Oliver Blume, current chairman of the management board of Porsche, a subsidiary of the group.

The boss of the Volkswagen group, Herbert Diess, will leave the management of the group, Volkswagen announced on Friday July 22. This surprise departure was decided « from a common agreement » at a meeting of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, according to a statement. However, nothing foreshadowed his departure. This Friday again, he wanted on LinkedIn a « well deserved summer break » to its employees.

Bringing Volkswagen into a new era

He will be replaced from September by the current chairman of the management board of Porsche, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group, Oliver Blume. If Herbert Diess had been in the hot seat for months, he had so far always saved his head. The twelve-brand manufacturer was criticized for its forced shift towards the electric and connected car.

“Herbert Diess played a key role in furthering the transformation of the business during his tenure” at the head of Volkswagen and the eponymous brand, said the chairman of the supervisory board, Hans Dieter Pötsch, in a press release. “He not only steered the company through extremely difficult waters, but he also fundamentally realigned it strategically”he added.

At the end of 2021, Herbert Diess, who came from BMW with a reputation as an uncompromising manager, emerged victorious from a period of tension with powerful staff representatives. At the origin of the internal turbulence, the management style and the electrification strategy of the man who took the wheel of Volkswagen in 2018 with the ambition to definitively turn the page on dieselgate.

Volkswagen had indeed acknowledged in the fall of 2015 having equipped 11 million of its diesel vehicles with software capable of concealing emissions sometimes exceeding up to forty times the authorized standards. Investigations into this scandal had long been slowed by a legal battle before the Court of Justice of the European Union, but the latter finally upheld the illegality of Volkswagen’s software at the end of 2020.

Volkswagen in turmoil

Since the beginning of the year, Herbert Diess had already had to cede responsibility for operations in China, a strategic market, to another heavyweight in the company, obtaining in compensation the supervision of the entity Cariad, a Volkswagen unit responsible for coding software at the heart of the electric and connected revolution initiated by the automotive industry.

Ironically, due to the slow progress made by Cariad, Porsche recently decided to break off the partnership with this unit to develop its own IT solutions.

This choice was made by the future replacement for Herbert Diess at the head of Volkswagen. Oliver Blume has been leading Porsche since 2015. He joined the group in 1994, successively occupying management positions within the Audi, Seat and Volkswagen brands. He has been a member of the Volkswagen management board since 2018. (with AFP)

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