Volkswagen Group initiates strategic reshuffle

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New Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume rings the changes as new heads of quality and design are confirmed.

The Volkswagen Group has outlined plans for a major restructuring under new CEO Oliver Blume.

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In a move aimed at providing a “closer working connection” between each of the German giant’s main brands, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche will take on new areas of competence within a revised business structure that will provide “clearer priority setting and faster implementation of change”.

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Effective from 1 January 2023, Volkswagen will be responsible for production and procurement, Audi will be the lead for sales and quality and Porsche will head development and design.

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“Excellent quality and iconic design have always been USPs of the Volkswagen Group and its brands,” Blume said. “Managing these key functions via the brands will allow us to intensify our focus.”

The decision to position the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands as the key drivers of the Volkswagen Group’s business operations comes after it announced a 10-point plan in September, designed to strengthen its brands over the longer term.

Under the plan, the Volkswagen Group said “distinct improvements in product substance, quality and design are to be achieved in future years”.

To facilitate the strategy, the Volkswagen Group has announced changes to its management.

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As of 1 January, Michael Neumayer will assume responsibility for quality management across the Group while retaining his position as head of quality at Audi. He replaces Frank Welsch, who is retiring.

Michael Mauer will become head of Volkswagen Group design again, replacing Klaus Zyciora, who is leaving the company.

Zyciora, who has held the top job since 2020, penned the entirety of the Volkswagen ID electric car line-up and oversaw the design of the sixth, seventh and eighth generations of the Volkswagen Golf.

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Mauer previously held the top position between 2015 and 2020. He has been head of design at Porsche since 2004, responsible for the 911 and new products including the 918 Spyder, Macan and Taycan.

Today’s management reshuffle follows a raft of significant changes to the Volkswagen Group’s next round of products.

Earlier this month, Blume green-lit a reported £1.3 billion (AUD$2.35bn) investment to extend the lifespan of the four-year-old MEB platform.

This will delay the introduction of the SSP platform – designed around a more advanced 800V electrical architecture – until 2028.

In turn, Volkswagen’s Trinity project, which seeks to develop an autonomous Tesla Model 3 rival, has been switched from the SSP to the upgraded variant of the MEB.

This avoids the two-year delay previously confirmed by Volkswagen brand CEO Thomas Schäfer, keeping Trinity on track to launch in 2026.

“We’re not 100 per cent sure what comes when,” Schäfer said in November, prior to the Trinity’s platform switch.

“But what we know is that everything slides a bit back by, say, two years, on the Trinity side specifically. That allows us potentially to integrate the vehicle into the [Wolfsburg] factory, because by then the ICE volume in the factory will reduce and we won’t have the problem that it’s too full to integrate another car.”

The Trinity is seen as a lynchpin in the Group’s plans for the 2020s and is expected to spawn an Audi derivative.

Blume is also expected to announce revised plans for the Volkswagen Group’s Cariad software division in a board meeting tomorrow (15 December).

He’s anticipated to confirm the cancellation of Audi’s Artemis project, which has been working on a Level Four-capable autonomous vehicle for 2024, due to slow progress.

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