And he was poached from its chief rival, BMW.
The fallout from Dieselgate still continues to plague Audi. Its now-former CEO, Rupert Stadler, was charged by German prosecutors in August for fraud, indirect discrimination, and false advertising in connection with the diesel emissions scandal. Stadler was held in prison until last October for his alleged role and he'll soon be heading to trial. Since his departure, Audi appointed Bram Schot as interim CEO and though he reportedly very much wants the job on a permanent basis that does not appear to be happening.
According to Reuters, Audi is about to hire BMW's engine development and purchasing expert, Markus Duesmann as its next CEO. Audi previously tried to hire Duesmann months ago but BMW raised objections and would not release him early from his non-compete contractual clause.
The latest report indicates BMW has since dropped its opposition to Duesmann's early departure, who could start as Audi CEO beginning on April 1. His contract with BMW lasts until September 30, 2019. BMW's board still apparently has to approve of his departure, hence the months-long time span. Why is Audi so keen to hire Duesmann? Because the Volkswagen Group wants someone with "clean-engine expertise."
In case you didn't already know, Dieselgate originated in Audi's engine development department. Bringing in an outsider who also happens to have a specialty in automotive engine development is exactly what Audi wants and even needs.
This also would not be the first time the VW Group has poached a high-profile executive from BMW. Back in mid-2015, current VW Group CEO Herbert Diess defected from BMW. Although the VW Group is very much on the right track towards an all-electric future, there's still plenty more work to be done and it firmly believes its mainstream luxury division needs a specific type of CEO to lead the way. As the VW board sees things, Duesmann is that guy.