By on May 15, 2019

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced its plan to assemble 600,000 electric vehicles utilizing the brand’s MEB platform at two plants in China. The facilities, said to be located in the cities of Anting and Foshan, will help bolster EV volume after the completion of VW’s Zwickau plant in Germany — which the company previously claimed would manufacture 330,000 cars annually.

While that facility is nearing completion and supposed to be up and running before 2020, there’s no firm timeline in place for China. But that’s the least of the issues Volkswagen must solve in order to make this dream a reality.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2018

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group intends to fire a group of employees implicated in the diesel emissions fraud scandal. German prosecutors in Brunswick have identified an inner circle of 39 “suspicious engineers” it believes contributed directly to the emissions cheating. It’s expected that VW will carry out these terminations as quickly as possible, with additional waves of firings to follow.

According to Handelsblatt, Volkswagen made the decision to cleanse its ranks after being granted access to the prosecution’s investigation files in July. The automaker followed up with a series of employee “interviews” and a month-long review process. VW has already announced the dismissal of six high-ranking employees, with former development head Heinz-Jakob Neußer (Neusser) being the most noteworthy.  (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Unsealed documents from a German prosecutor’s office shed light on current Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess’ knowledge of the costly diesel emissions scandal. Back in late July, 2015, Diess, having just taken the helm of the VW brand after arriving from BMW, sat in on a fateful meeting, German magazine Der Spiegel reports.

It seems that, for the executives at that table, the key to avoiding prosecution depends on how dumb they can claim to be. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen’s new chief executive officer, Herbert Diess, is believed to have met with the United States’ Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation last week to discuss the manufacturer’s emissions scandal. Details on the matter are scare at present, but the meeting would explain why the U.S. was willing to provide the CEO with a safe-passage guarantee.

While VW has previously stated its cooperation in various investigations, it declined to comment on Diess’ alleged visit to federal authorities. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2018

Shortly after the United States formally accused former CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn of criminal wrongdoing related to the company’s diesel emission scandal, it decided to let the company’s new boss know that he’s safe to visit whenever he likes. The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to give Herbert Diess a safe-passage deal that allows him to travel without fear of being arrested.

Diess was also given the country’s assurance that he’ll be given advance notice if prosecutors eventually decide to charge him over the emissions cheating issue. So far as we know, no such deal exists for his predecessor, Matthias Müller, who replaced Winterkorn in September of 2015.  (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2018

Image: VW Group

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess, 59, now pulls all the levers at Volkswagen Group. On Thursday, the automaker’s supervisory board appointed Diess as CEO and said goodbye to Matthias Müller, who stepped down from the top position “by mutual agreement,” effective immediately.

The shakeup at the top comes as Volkswagen Group changes the way it manages the multiple brands under its corporate umbrella. There’s now a plan for six new business areas (plus the formation of a China region), with VW Group brands organized into three tiers — volume, premium, and super premium. All of this, in VW’s view, should lead to a streamlined decision-making process and a nimbler company. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2018

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Volkswagen Group is thinking about replacing chief executive Matthias Müller with the head of its VW brand, Herbert Diess. According to inside sources, however, the decision already appears to have been made. When questioned about staffing changes, the company said it was “considering evolving the leadership structure” as it relates to the the management board — which could extend to a change in CEOs.

An automaker typically wouldn’t even hint at such a thing if it wasn’t already a done deal. That means Müller is almost guaranteed to be moving on soon, bringing his extended history with the company to a close. A true company man, Matthias completed a tooling apprenticeship at Audi in 1977, before a reprieve where he left to study computer engineering. Returning to the brand in 1984, Müller moved up the ranks swiftly — eventually becoming CEO of Porsche in 2010 and replacing Martin Winterkorn as Volkswagen AG’s CEO during 2015’s diesel emissions scandal.

While his contract is good until 2020, the company could still press for an early retirement. In fact, some reports even have Müller removed from his post already. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2018

Image: Volkswagen of America

Volkswagen doesn’t make much of a fuss about becoming the world’s largest automaker these days, mainly because it’s already cleared that hurdle — and in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, no less. In the United States, however, one long-helg goal remains elusive: reaching a 5 percent market share.

While the automaker claims its top priority is shoring up its U.S. business with new, Americanized product, old dreams die hard. VW still wants the kind of market share it enjoyed in 1970, but it’s not even halfway to reaching that goal. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenIn 2009, during the depths of a global financial crisis the likes of which generations had never seen, Volkswagen of America set forth on a nine-year plan that would more than triple sales to 800,000 units in 2018.

Stuff happened. A crisis (or two) got in the way. An overly Americanized product lineup lacking in utility vehicles underachieved. Volkswagen lost its right to sell diesel models in America. Volkswagen will struggle to sell 400,000 new vehicles in the United States in 2018.

Although at first it seemed possible — Volkswagen sales grew far faster than the market as a whole exiting the recession — the 800,000-unit sales goal has long since been abandoned. By 2014, before the diesel emissions scandal even broke, now-departed Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn was questioning the timing of the 800,000-sales goal.

As the summer of 2017 approaches a close, however, Volkswagen’s global boss Herbert Diess has a new, seemingly unrealistic goal for the brand’s U.S. operations, Bloomberg reports. With a stronger SUV lineup, Volkswagen wants to grow its U.S. market share to 5 percent in 2020.

Volkswagen’s market share in 2017? Less than 2 percent. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

Throughout the entirety of Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal, the automaker has changed its tune on several occasions. After evading scrutiny from regulators for years, it finally admitted to installing illegal defeat devices designed to fool U.S. emission testing in late 2015. However, it assured the public that no high-ranking executive had complete knowledge of the misdeed until news of the scandal broke to outraged consumers.

Obviously, that was a lie. But no damning evidence came out indicating anyone above mid-level management had prior knowledge of the devices or any idea they would be so harmful to the company. But now a Volkswagen manager arrested earlier this year claims the automaker’s former chief executive and other top managers had been told the carmaker’s diesel emissions violations could cost up to $18.5 billion, well before the September 2015 announcement.  (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

Ferdinand Piech, Image: Volkswagen AG

Porsche Automobil Holding SE has denied it intentionally misled investors over the severity of the VW emissions cheating crisis in 2015. With Volkswagen AG’s Chief Executive Officer Matthias Müller now personally caught up in the growing market manipulation investigation, it was only a matter of time before Porsche Automobil Holding released a statement to assure investors the board had done its job appropriately.

Müller’s joining of former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, supervisory board chair Hans Dieter Poetsch, and board member Herbert Diess as the focus of government probes has made the situation appear fishier than a trawler’s top deck. However, at this week’s annual shareholders meeting, Poetsch said he is convinced none of the board members are guilty of any wrongdoing — presumably, he included himself in the statement.

“We perceive all legal claims against Porsche SE relating to the diesel issue as unfounded,” he explained.  (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2016

Volkswagen TDI

A day after German prosecutors announced an investigation into former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, the company’s brand chief was named as the second executive placed under the microscope in their probe of the diesel emissions scandal.

Herbert Diess, the man lured away from BMW last year to oversee the Volkswagen passenger car brand, now gets to enjoy his own investigation, according to Reuters. (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2016

Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept

More autonomy is coming to North American Volkswagen operations, thanks in part to dealer protests calling for exactly that.

Today, Volkswagen established a new North American Region (NAR) encompassing Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, headed by no-longer-interim Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken (who replaced departing CEO Michael Horn in March). (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2016

Volkswagen TDI

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess has a target on his back, now that the union representing the automaker’s workers has made its distrust of the company public.

Labor union IG Metall slammed the company’s management in a letter published on its website, stating the company was using the diesel emissions scandal as a way of cutting staff, according to Bloomberg.

The union said it wants assurances from Volkswagen brass that layoffs aren’t coming down the pipe, and implied that Diess’ job is in danger if he doesn’t agree to protect employee positions.

(Read More…)

By on April 3, 2016

Herbert Diess, Image: Image: RudolfSimon (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Volkswagen dealers in the U.S. will get more vehicles to sell this year and next, but there’s still no word on possible reparations or when to expect a diesel emissions fix.

At a meeting with dealers at the National Auto Dealers Association convention on Saturday, Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess promised to “redefine” the brand and boost shipments of popular models, Automotive News has reported.

The meeting aimed to calm the fears of increasingly frustrated dealers while providing some certainty about product strategy. Despite promising to carry on with the strategy favored by departed Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn, Diess’ reassurances didn’t win over everyone.

(Read More…)

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