By on November 2, 2012

After a rash of interim-CEOs, Opel may have found a more permanent one. It’s the former Volkswagen manager Karl-Thomas Neumann. The successful recruitment was first published by Financial Times Deutschland, the report was quickly confirmed by wire services and major German newspapers.

Reuters says that Neumann may sign a contract with Opel in 2013. Currently, there are contractual ties with Volkswagen. Neumann’s last job at VW was head of its Chinese operations, which he became with great fanfare.

This 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. That’s what Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn wanted to hear.

For a while it looked  like  Neumann would be disposed of as chief of Skoda, Volkswagen’s spent fuel pond for formerly hot executives.  His predecessor in China, Winfried Vahland, had taken the same route. Instead, Neumann wanted out and negotiated a severance deal with Volkswagen. He immediately landed on the shortlist for future Opel CEOs.

At Opel, Neumann would have to be confirmed by the supervisory board. VW and Opel declined to comment.

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7 Comments on “German Media: Opel Snags New CEO. He Looks Like An Ostrich...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Well he looks like a potential good chief since he comes with experience from a successful European auto company. Also it is refreshing to hear that he was honest in his sales forecast and was pushed out because he refused to lie and say 4 million. That sort of honesty should help Opel and GM.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Given that VW will probably deliver 2.6M cars in China in 2012, 4M in 2018 isn’t that big a stretch in a growing market: it’s only 50% in six years, or an average 7.5% annual growth.

      Compare that to Marchionne’s targets for Maserati (from 6K to 45K by 2014) or Alfa Romeo (from 100K to 500K by 2014). These are 7.5x or 5x growth in only two years …

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Does honesty work with Dan Ackerson?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Maybe he’ll be the one to turn out the lights.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    Lol, love the headline. Mr. Schmitt, you rule!

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Considering Opel’s condition, perhaps a vulture would be a more apt comparison. “Are you dead yet?”

    The avian cast to his features is uncanny; your headline was worth a good laugh here.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Just another stab in the dark, by Powerpoint-driven GM. Just set it on the table over there with the other dozen past plans.

    The only thing that will work in GM’s Europe is a spin-off, bankruptcy, and rebuild with realistic contracts and assets.

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