Volkswagen's new CEO wants change - and fast

Volkswagen's new CEO wants change - and fast

Volkswagen's new CEO wants change - and fast

Herbert Diess said a new management structure bundling the company's dozen brands in just three divisions would mean faster decisions as the company implements a broad strategy aimed at keeping up with changes in how people use cars.

As the names suggest, the brands will be divided according to product value, with the likes of Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT found in the Volume category, while Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley will make up the Super Premium segment of the business.

At a news conference at Volkswagen (VW) group headquarters, Diess sought to play down the extent of planned changes, taking care not to stoke fears over jobs that have caused labour bosses to stifle previous attempted overhauls. That position has been given to Oliver Blume, the existing Porsche CEO. Bernd Osterloh, the company's powerful labor leader, balked at negotiating with him during tough contract talks in 2016, but Diess prevailed with a landmark deal that paved the way to cutting as many as 30,000 jobs and saving 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 billion).

The company will divide itself into six new business areas as part of an effort to decentralize responsibility and improve efficiency.

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Herbert Diess has taken charge of the Volkswagen Group as its new CEO, and will also continue to serve as Volkswagen's brand chief.

The management shakeup included appointing an employee representative, Gunnar Kilian, as chief human resources manager.

Mueller, who formerly headed Porsche, took over as CEO unexpectedly in September 2015 when Martin Winterkorn resigned over the company's scandal over cars rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

"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 vehicle brand.

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Board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said the departing Mr Mueller had done "outstanding work" at a time when the company "faced the greatest challenge in its history". About 482,000 were sold in the US, and 11 million around the world. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, Volkswagen's long-time head of purchasing, will leave the company.

His cost-cutting measures and other changes are seen at top levels to have been essential to the record earnings the vehicle group posted a year ago.

Blume will head up a "super premium" cars division which groups Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti and possibly Lamborghini, which is now integrated with Audi.

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