Volkswagen of America CEO and President Jonathan Browning has stepped down from his post, with Michael Horn set to assume the role once held by Browning beginning New Year’s Day 2014.
Horn, a VW veteran, replaces Browning, who had been at VW since 2010. While VW is currently the third largest automaker in the world due to growing markets in China and Brazil, the United States remains a market that VW has been unable to crack. The main issue is the lack of a competitor made to take on the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. VW’s current offerings in that space, like the Tiguan and Toureg, are ill-positioned and priced out of the majority of the U.S. SUV market.
On the car front, the Americanized Passat was supposed to be the key component in a strategy to help VW break out of its niche upon introduction 2011. Since then, the car has failed to crack the Top 20 of models sold in the U.S., with sales falling 2.1 percent this year in the face of tougher competition from American rivals.
Browning is said to be leaving for personal reasons, returning to his home in the United Kingdom.