Moving Day: Volkswagen Brand Gets a New Boss

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
moving day volkswagen brand gets a new boss

Forget all about that Porsche dude. The current CEO of Volkswagen Group’s sporting car brand will not become the new head of the automaker’s namesake brand. Instead, a supervisory board meeting Monday saw Herbert Diess punted, replaced by the brand’s former chief operating officer.

Come July 1st, Ralf Brandstätter will take the helm, tasked with guiding the brand through troubled water and into an electrified future.

While Brandstätter, who joined the company in 1993 and accepted his current role in 2018, will take over Diess’ job at VW, his predecessor won’t be at loose ends. Far from it. He’ll remain in charge of the broader VW Group.

“The CEO of the Volkswagen Group, Dr. Herbert Diess, who had previously been responsible for both functions, will therefore receive greater leeway for his tasks as Group CEO. Within the Group Board of Management, he will retain overall responsibility for Volkswagen Passenger Cars and the Volume brand group,” the automaker said in a release, adding that the move will allow Diess to focus more strongly on navigating the company through the industry’s “transformation phase.”

VW has very lofty sales goals for its nascent crop of electric vehicles. That line started with the Euro-market ID.3 launched late last year, but the vehicle family will ultimately give birth to numerous body styles in the next few years — including the upcoming ID.4 crossover seen above. At the end of 2019, VW said that, by 2023, the automaker would produce 1 million vehicles per year, with that output rising to 1.5 million by 2025. In early March, the automaker doubled down, promising 50 new EV models by 2025, with 22 million EVs sold by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, the very first vehicle built atop VW’s dedicated MEB electric architecture is having teething problems. If Diess thinks Brandstätter is the wrong man for the job, he didn’t show it.

“Ralf Brandstätter is one of the company’s most experienced managers. Over the past two years, he has already led Volkswagen successfully as COO and played a key role in shaping the transformation of the brand,” Diess said. “I am therefore very pleased that Ralf Brandstätter will be forging ahead with the development of the brand as CEO following the far-reaching strategic decisions of the past few years.”

While the sales plunge and resulting cash burn born of the coronavirus pandemic has some automakers rolling back electrification efforts, VW has set a course and plans to stick to it.

“On the basis of the Transform 2025+ strategy, the brand is developing into one of the leading providers of carbon-neutral mobility and is on the way to becoming a digital technology company,” Brandstätter said, thanking the team in Wolfsburg.

“We will follow our path resolutely together.”

[Images: Volkswagen]

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  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.
  • Tassos I clearly have no sentimental attachment to any cars from the 80s. I myself drove a Dasher (passat) wagon with horrible reliability, and then a Pontiac 2000, very fuel efficient for its time with its 1.8 lt and 5 speed, but a small econobox crudely made, with no luxuries inside. But most other cars of the era were really CRAPPY, unsafe, both in terms of passive AND active safety, had very few options modern cars have, etc etc. The best car I owned then was a 1991 Honda Civic 5-sp hatch, but that was also an 80s design that was on sale from 1987-1991. Not just the domestics were crappy then, but so were m ost of the imports. As you can see, I have ZERO "nostalgia" for any of these, especially not for the unreliable, poorly made JUNK from DATSUN-NISSAN, which is widely reviled overseas as a maker of small pickup trucks that are the favorites of Gypsies selling watermelons from their bed.
  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.
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