By on December 17, 2015


Five new chiefs for research, sales and production will lead Volkswagen, the automaker announced Thursday, including a new engineering chief to replace Ulrich Hackenberg, the longtime boss at the center of the diesel cheating scandal.

The automaker also announced a smaller, more linear organization for its chiefs. Volkswagen cut in half the number of managers who report directly to new CEO Matthias Müller, according to the automaker, which could help end the cutthroat corporate culture that contributed to the pressure to appease former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

“These structural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency,” Müller said in a statement.

Ulrich Eichhorn will take over for Hackenberg as head of Volkswagen Group’s Research and Development. Eichhorn was most recently managing director of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, a post he took over in 2012. Before that, Eichhorn was head of engineering for Bentley.

Michael Mauer will take over design for Volkswagen Group in addition to leading Porsche, which he’s done since 2004. Mauer started at Mercedes-Benz in 1984 and led development of the SLK and SL models, before leaving in 2000. Mauer takes over design duties from Walter de Silva, who retired from Volkswagen last month. De Silva penned the Audi R8 and Alfa Romeo 156.

Fred Kappler will take over for Volkswagen Group’s sales. A longtime VW exec, Kappler has held sales positions for the company in China, and in Europe as head of sales for Skoda and Volkswagen Parts.

Wolfram Thomas will head group production for Volkswagen, according to the automaker. Thomas is a longtime VW executive and notably was Volkswagen’s powertrain production planning chief in 1989, according to his Bloomberg profile. Since 1998, he has been manager of Volkswagen’s Kassel plant, which is the company’s primary transmission plant.

Ralf-Gerhard Willner will lead Volkswagen’s modular architecture push, after leading Audi’s concept cars since 2013.

Similar to Volkswagen’s announcement earlier this year, the automaker appears to be stacking its boardroom with longtime employees with few connections to the diesel scandal that has cut through the automaker faster than a bad burrito.

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