Volkswagen's U.S. Hopes Might Ride on This Man
Volkswagen of America has a new head honcho in charge of product and marketing, and he’ll have his work cut out for him.
Today, Volkswagen named Dr. Hendrik Muth as the new vice-president of product marketing and strategy for its beleaguered U.S. division. His job? To sell vehicles. Ideally, lots of them.
Muth, 42, took on the position effective August 1, replacing former product boss Joerg Sommer, who served in that role since 2013.
In a statement, the automaker said, “Muth will oversee all product marketing activities which include the current and future Volkswagen brand vehicle portfolio for the entire U.S.” Muth reports directly to Mark McNabb, Volkswagen of America’s chief operating officer.
Clearly, the bosses in Wolfsburg felt the need for new blood (and fresh thinking) as the automaker tries to emerge from underneath its disastrous diesel emissions scandal.
Muth will be key in helping the automaker roll out its new product strategy — a crossover and SUV-heavy push designed to lure buyers back to the brand. The “clean diesel” era is over, and Volkswagen wants to move away from both oil burner s and headlines about defeat devices.
New products coming down the pipe are all designed to give U.S. buyers what they want. They include a lengthened Tiguan, a three-row midsize SUV, and the all-wheel-drive Golf Alltrack. If Muth can mix the right product with the right messaging (assuming the quality and price are okay), the company’s turnaround could begin before the last diesels return to dealers in exchange for cash.
For the Volkswagen brand, the turnaround needs to happen soon. After sliding steadily since the scandal broke last September, year-to-date sales are down 13.6 percent over 2015 numbers.
More by Steph Willems