Herbert Diess has taken charge of the Volkswagen Group as its new CEO, and will also continue to serve as Volkswagen’s brand chief. Previous group head, Matthias Müller, had been serving the company since the emissions scandal began in September 2015.
The move is part of sweeping changes at the group, which includes Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Audi as well as luxury brands Bentley, Bugatti, Porsche and Bentley.
Under the new structure, the car brands will be separated into three core divisions – volume, which will include VW, Skoda and Seat; premium, which features Audi; and super premium, which includes Porsche Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley.
According to VW, the new structure has been created in order to streamline group management, leverages synergies in the individual operating units and speed up decision making.
"Audi is the core brand for this competitive segment, which features BMW, Daimler and Lexus," Diess said, when asked whether Audi is the sole premium car brand. "Audi plays an instrumental role within the whole group. Our super premum segment is specifically for car enthusiasts who like to spend a lot of money on cars – people who really love cars and are petrolheads".
Diess said that he will work to increase the efficiency of synergies across the group's companies, highlighting the importance of streamlining decision making processes in order to adapt to the fast-changing car industry.
"My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility," he said. "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.
"We believe we cannot control and manage this century, but our group activities will be co-ordinated and our political relationships will be well maintained," said Diess, when asked how the company plans to stay ahead of a constantly evolving car industry.
Müller’s departure had also left a vacant space on Porsche’s board which has been filled by Oliver Blume, the current CEO of the brand.
Müller led the Volkswagen Group through one of its toughest periods as it faced fire for its emissions cheating scandal. He inherited the top role from Martin Winterkorn, who resigned when the scandal broke.