Report to the Bridge: Audi AG Sees an Upper Ranks Shakeup

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Audi announced a rather high-level reorganization of management on Monday as it continues grappling with life after Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal.

The automaker is still on the receiving end of numerous criminal investigations and vehicle recalls, as well as criticism from unions. But four of its board members aren’t coming along for the ride. Audi AG is replacing CFO Axel Strotbek, production chief Hubert Waltl, human resources head Thomas Sigi and sales chief Dietmar Voggenreiter, effective at the end of this month.

Interestingly, CEO Rupert Stadler, who has received criticism for his handling of the diesel crisis, will persist as CEO of the company. The supervisory board extended his contract in May.

According to Automotive News, VW’s commercial vehicles’ sales head Bram Schot was chosen to take Voggenreiter’s position, while CFO Strotbek will be succeeded by Alexander Seitz (who has been embedded in Volkswagen’s joint venture with Chinese automaker SAIC).

Audi has named VW manager Wendelin Goebel, a trusted associate of VW CEO Matthias Müller and Audi’s own Stadler, to replace Sigi as head of personnel. Meanwhile, Peter Koessler, the chief of Audi’s plant in Gyor, Hungary, was tapped succeed Waltl as production lead.

Germany’s Manager Magazin reported on the planned reshuffle near the end of July, stating Mueller had already informed the four executives at an Audi board meeting about their imminent dismissal — which is a pretty brutal way to find out you’re losing your job.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Null Set Null Set on Aug 29, 2017

    Most of these beheadings are predictable - the usual suspects in response to a legal scandal that's actually costing the company major dollars. But it is significant they're axing their head of human resources as well. This is a rare and unusual move. Since HR just dumbly, slavishly do what the leaders tell them to do, it can't, legitimately, be punishment for the massive personnel malfeasance uncovered by the scandal (which, technically, some of the other victims can be). Since that malfeasance came directly from the top. But optics and scapegoatng I guess take precedence, as always in the corporate world.

    • Ash78 Ash78 on Aug 29, 2017

      Yep, I've been through a couple of bank failures and personally saw some very upstanding HR chiefs axed without a second though, even though they had absolutely nothing to do with capital management or lending practices. Like you say, a lot of times everyone at a certain level is on the chopping block.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Aug 29, 2017

    What's really criminal (or at least idiotic)? The stupid power output emblem scheme they've dreamed up (like "50 TSI"). Why not just put the list price on the back?

  • Manny_c44 Manny_c44 on Aug 30, 2017

    That's it, I'm naming my kid Dietmar.