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 December 22, 2017

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen has slashed salaries and suspended the bonuses of 14 members of its works council, including council head Bernd Osterloh, as officials investigate alleged overpayments. In May, it was made public that German prosecutors were looking into current and former executives at VW under suspicions that they paid the labor chief an “excessive” salary.

This was followed by a November raid, after which the council claimed the probe didn’t “target Osterloh.” Members specified that all payments were in line with Germany’s legal guidelines. The offices of VW’s chief financial officer, Frank Witter, and personnel director Karlheinz Blessing were also searched. (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 May 23, 2017

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

Volkswagen has attempted to portray itself as a kinder and more responsible automaker in the wake of its emissions cheating scandal. However, CEO Matthias Müller says convincing middle management to change has proven exceptionally difficult. VW has been pushing to become — or at least seem like — a more transparent company that has decentralized its rigid management hierarchy.

“There are definitely people who are longing for the old centralistic leadership,” Müller stated during a meeting with business representatives on Monday. “I don’t know whether you can imagine how difficult it is to change their mindset.”

It’s been 20 months since the diesel emissions scandal entered the news cycle and Müller took over as chief executive. Throughout that time, VW’s top executives have tossed mid-level employees under the bus on numerous occasions. While there is little reason to doubt some might have trouble adjusting to a new corporate climate, it would be nice to hear top brass taking any semblance of responsibility once in a while — even on something minor like this.  (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2017

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

German prosecutors verified the launch of a formal investigation involving Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch due to suspected market manipulation.

While we reported on the probe last week, Müller’s inclusion was highly unexpected. It was unclear what, if anything, officials had on the CEO and why they waited until now to add him to the growing number of upper-level executives under examination.

The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office stated on Wednesday the investigation was prompted by a request from market regulator BaFin in the summer of 2016. After spending some time gathering evidence, investigators began to believe executives deliberately postponed releasing information to investors about the scale of the scandal and didn’t adequately disclose its financial consequences.

VW Group maintains the leadership had complied with disclosure rules and executives were unaware of the scope of the emissions cheating scandal when it kicked-off.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

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

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller is under investigation in Germany over the possibility he withheld important information on the company’s emissions scandal to investors, as well as potential market manipulation relating to Porsche. While public prosecutors continued to broaden their search among high-ranking company officials, the inclusion of the CEO is a bit of a surprise.

It was widely believed Müller would be free from scrutiny as he was appointed to replace ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn shortly after the emissions scandal went public in September 2015. Initially, German investigators even stated the CEO was not suspected of any wrongdoing. Then, in March of 2017, prosecutors launched a raid that seized the mobile phones, electronic passwords, appointment books, and email files of numerous Volkswagen and Audi employees — including Müller.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen AG announced at its annual shareholders meeting this week that it will not be publishing the findings of an external investigation into its diesel emissions scandal conducted by the Jones Day law firm. The reason for VW’s secrecy is due to an underlying fear among management that the information held in the report would lead to further lawsuits and fines.

VW Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch addressed the thousands of shareholders by first thanking the U.S. legal team for its hard work and then explaining there was no way in hell anyone outside of the company would benefit from its findings — tossing any promised transparency out the window. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Sergio’s waiting by the phone. Waiting for someone to call him up and tell him he’s not alone. (Our apologies to Soul Asylum – Ed.)

It’s not our fault Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s corporate life resembles a game of Mystery Date. That’s just the way it is for an automaker on the prowl for a partner. After having its advances repeatedly rebuffed by General Motors, FCA has now latched onto Volkswagen as a potential suitor — but the merger dance hasn’t been a smooth one.

After some cattiness on VW’s part, it seems the eternally — and perhaps naïvely — optimistic Marchionne’s hopes are once again up. He’s anticipating a call. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

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

To say that there was some speculation surrounding Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller’s response to a potential partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automotive would be a severe understatement.

Müller said there had been no contact between he and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, but he’d not ruled anything out. He seemed to have an indifference about the subject, which left plenty of room to let minds wander.

According to Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette, that’s not the whole story.

(Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne changed his stance on the appeal of a potential merger with Volkswagen AG, saying he now has “zero interest” after being publicly spurned by company CEO Matthias Müller.

Marchionne had previously expressed a repeated interest in sharing business with the German automaker, especially with regard to green technologies.

However, after an initial remark where he said he was “not ruling out a conversation,” Müller explained that he had no direct contact with the FCA CEO. “It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,” Müller told German reporters on Tuesday. “I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne,” he concluded.  (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2017

porsche-ceo-matthias-muller

Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen Group, said in a press conference he hasn’t excluded the possibility of a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

Müller said, “There has been no contact at this point between (CEO of FCA) Mr. Marchionne and me, but I have never said I would exclude it.”

(Read More…)

By on January 10, 2017

VW logo

Volkswagen has negotiated a conclusive plan with the U.S. Department of Justice for a criminal and civil settlement worth $4.3 billion. While the company has confirmed the status of the settlement, it also stated that the full impact of the deal on its annual finances could not yet be established.

Germany’s largest carmaker said Tuesday that it anticipates a guilty plea in response to the criminal charges against it. It also expects to pay the full settlement over accusations that it intentionally modified over half of a million diesel vehicles with software designed to cheat U.S. emissions standards. (Read More…)

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