By on June 4, 2020

Volkswagen Group is moving Porsche CEO Oliver Blume over to the core brand, necessitating a broader employment shift within the company to ensure other nameplates aren’t left without leadership. German outlet Auto Motor und Sport indicated earlier in the week that a management shakeup was afoot that would see Blume take over the VW brand in order for group head Herbert Diess to focus on managing the bigger picture.

Blume is rumored to have been tapped to help the company address rampant issues with its upcoming electric vehicles. If you’ll recall, VW has struggled with software issues and production holdups for some time. Last we checked, VW’s plan was to launch the ID.3 with less-than-ideal computer code that it intends to fix later.

Sounds like a bad one. 

Considering the company’s track record with software, we’re not enthralled with how this is being handled. Your author has even grown fearful that the next batch of Volkswagens is really going to suck — despite being a fan of most non-diesel VW products for quite some time. Touch-focused interiors, unnecessary connectivity features, and an electric vehicle program that seems struck in a rut are doing more to rattle my faith in the brand than Dieselgate ever did.

Scamming regulators with emissions-cheating software showed us that the brand was willing to play dirty with its diesel models (which were gradually being ruined by air-quality control systems anyway). All that did was teach us that corporate leadership had loose ethics; it’s a lesson we’ve been taught before. But these new problems are making the company look totally inept as an automaker.

Engineers have told us on the sly that the software powering the ID.3 was rushed — hinting that the same might be true for other electrics coming out of Volkswagen Group. As a result, the company ended up with a bunch of on-board systems that fail to interface with each other as intended because they’re effectively speaking different languages.

While most common among the group’s EVs, it’s by no means limited to them. The launch of the eighth-generation Golf was also delayed over software gremlins that required removal.

Blume, who’s headed Porsche since 2015, has a pretty good track record within the company and Auto Motor und Sport thinks he’s the right man to address production issues — or, more accurately, assumes Volkswagen Group feels that way. He is head of production on VW’s management board, after all.

The vacant CEO position at Porsche is rumored to be filled by Skoda boss Bernhard Maier. Other staffing changes include VW’s chief technology officer, Matthias Rabe, recently moving to Bentley to head engineering. Rabe replaced Werner Tietz, who now runs R&D for SEAT. Chief Marketing Officer Jochen Sengpiehl was also fired after the company apologized for an advertisement deemed racist by the public. Volkswagen is expected to make a public announcement about the staffing changes soon.

[Image: U.J. Alexander/Shutterstock]

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9 Comments on “Fix It: Volkswagen Makes Changes to Upper Management...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Musical chairs is bad messaging, and bad for morale.

    Software bugs take a long time to fix, and hopefully they won’t require hardware changes to get it right – that’s many months of delay.

    As for the product, both the Audi e-tron and the Porsche Taycan are horribly inefficient EVs. Maybe the nicer interior and paint are worth the $50-80k premium over a Model S to some people, but likely very few.

  • avatar

    “But these new problems are making the company look totally inept as an automaker.”

    Compared to which other OEM’s? Every car company has its blind spots.

    [Which companies have which blind spots/challenges could be a QOTD…]

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Right now I am seriously trying to think of a “well run” automaker and I can’t. I’m open to suggestions. For example-Hyundai has a revolving door of Executives constantly-the door needs speed control.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen is a soap opera that happens to make cars

    First car I bought. I used to love them but now I wish they would just go away. They give America inferior ware and then wonder why they keep failing here

  • avatar

    Great, but have they addressed rogue engineers?

  • avatar

    Do you know what happened to CEO of Oldsmobile and CEO of Pontiac? Were they tapped to help to fix issues at Chevrolet or Cadillac? BTW who is CEO of Buick? I cannot recall and Google is no help/

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Touch-focused interiors, unnecessary connectivity features…”

    Is it only me who feels that autos, which at its core are mechanical devices, have already waaaay too much software?

    BTW, I am an EE.

  • avatar

    “Your author has even grown fearful that the next batch of Volkswagens is really going to suck — despite being a fan of most non-diesel VW products for quite some time.”

    Yes, as someone who has a Mk7 GTI and has enjoyed it (for the most part), that’s my fear as well. The electronics are clearly already a disaster, but also worrying is the blatant cost-cutting happening across the board, intended, I assume, to help pay for Dieselgate and the EV push. Of course in America this has been the case for a while with our Malibuized VWs. But it seems to be affecting the sacrosanct European lineup as well. The T-Roc, for a price premium over the Golf, has sub-Polo interior materials, and the build quality of the smaller T-Cross is truly shocking.

    The Mk8 Golf even shows several signs of this, losing the gas hood strut, felt linings in the glove box and elsewhere, and of course the touch pads replacing physical buttons. Combined with increasingly fussy and unattractive styling and VW is losing its USP. Hopefully this leadership shakeup will turn things around.

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