GM’s troubled European daughter Opel finally will get a more permanent CEO. As rumored since last year, it is the former Volkswagen manager Karl-Thomas Neumann. German Automobilwoche [sub] expects Neumann to be confirmed by Opel’s supervisory board on January 31.
Neumann is expected to take over on March 1 from interim-chief Thomas Sedran, who had replaced short-term-interim-chief Stephen Girsky. Even non-interim chiefs of Opel have a very short shelf life. Historically, an Opel CEO does not last longer than three years on average.
Opel wanted to hand the reigns to Neumann earlier, but there were contractual ties with Volkswagen. Volkswagen now generously allows Neumann to go three months earlier than the end of his contract.
Neumann’s last job at VW was head of its Chinese operations. Last summer, Neumann was toppled in China. It had been leaked that the reason was problems with Volkswagen’s dual clutch transmission, which Neumann allegedly had ignored. My informants in Beijing had a different story: Neumann was too timid with his sales forecasts for China, they said. He only budgeted 3 million units until 2018. New China chief Jochem Heizmann immediately budgeted for a Strategie 2018 compliant 4 million.