Volkswagen Taps Audi's Scott Keogh As New North American Boss

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen taps audi s scott keogh as new north american boss

Scott Keogh, head of Audi of America, will switch jobs on November 1st. The 49-year-old, who joined Audi in 2006 and ascended to the U.S. president’s chair in 2012, will take over Volkswagen’s North American operations next month, replacing Hinrich Woebcken.

While Keogh’s predecessor began easing VW in a new direction in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, Keogh needs to be just as much of a fixer.

One thing working in Keogh’s favor is the gradually increasing autonomy VW Group gave to its North American unit. In the diesel scandal’s wake, the automaker turned North America into its own region, allowing its representatives to have more say over product and respond in a quicker fashion to changing consumer demand. It took a company-rocking scandal to get HQ to let out the leash a bit.

During his fairly short time at the helm, Woebcken eased tensions between dealers and the brand and helped the company pivot towards a utility vehicle-focused U.S. product strategy. In less than two years, the floodgates will open on a slew of VW-badged electric vehicles. It’s hardly business as usual at VW of America.

“Hinrich J. Woebcken has brought the Volkswagen brand back on track for success in the U.S. and the North American region. Considering the challenging conditions, these achievements deserve my dedicated recognition,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG, in a statement. “After the successful comeback of the Volkswagen brand, Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America.”

Despite appearing to be on the right track, VW has a number of issues in need of mending. According to Automotive News, the brand’s U.S. dealers are among the least profitable in the country. At Audi, Keogh helped turn around a struggling dealer network by allowing them to purchase loaners at factory cost, boosting profitability when it came time to sell. Customer service scores also saw a boost under Keogh’s leadership — another area where VW needs help.

To reach Diess’s goal of achieving a 5 percent market share in the region, new products rolling out of Wolfsburg will need a good sales pitch, coddled customers, and appealing window stickers. Helping that goal is a new, yet-unnamed small crossover designed (at least initially) solely for this market. The midsize Atlas will soon spawn a sportier, two-row variant and possibly a pickup truck.

At the end of September, the brand’s U.S. sales were up 5.5 percent on a year-to-date basis.

Woebcken assumed his current position in April 2016 and will remain as an advisor after Nov. 1st. Replacing Keogh at Audi is Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Bentley’s American arm. Del Rosso sets up shop at Audi on December 1st.

[Images: Volkswagen of America]

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  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Oct 10, 2018

    He must know the phone number of someone at Skoda. Bring over the Yeti and watch 'em fly off the lots. given today's market.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Oct 11, 2018

    I keep getting emails from VW about the wild colors they are going to offer with the Spektrum program. We'll see how that plays out. The dealers are the issue, at least locally. I had to go to Dayton to get my Jetta...the dealers in Cincinnati didn't want to deal. I go to a store in Fairfield for their $49 Tuesday special oil changes and they're very nice in the service dept but their sales dept just wouldn't deal.

  • Dartman It was all a scam just to gin up some free publicity. It worked. Tassos go back to sleep; no ones on your lawn. Real ‘murricans prefer hot dogs to gyros.
  • ToolGuy I plan to install a sink in the crawl space soon. After that I plan to put washer and dryer hookups on my roof.
  • ToolGuy "That power team adds an electric supercharger"YES!
  • Cardave5150 UAW is acting all butt-hurt that their employers didn't "share the wealth" when they had massive profits. They conveniently forget that they have a CONTRACT with their employers, which was negotiated in good faith, and which the Remaining 3 are honoring, paying them exactly what they negotiated last time.
  • Kwik_Shift That's a shame.