Is he the right man for the job?
Some big changes are happening at Volkswagen. Herbert Diess is out as Volkswagen brand CEO, a job he's held since 2015. His successor is Ralf Brandstatter, formerly the brand's chief operating officer. Diess will retain his position as CEO of the Volkswagen Group, the parent company of not only Volkswagen, but also Audi, Bentley, Porsche, and Lamborghini, to name a few. "Ralf Brandstatter is one of the company's most experienced managers," Diess said in a statement. "I am therefore very pleased that Ralf Brandstatter will be forging ahead with the development of the brand as CEO."
An earlier report suggested Porsche CEO Oliver Blume would be taking over for Diess but clearly that's no longer the case. Brandstatter will assume his new position on July 1. But why was Diess replaced as VW brand chief in the first place?
For starters, VW is still struggling to move past the Dieselgate scandal, which has so far cost it over $30 billion with more losses expected. Only a few days ago, a US court ruled in favor of VW diesel owners by making it easier to sue the company. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit VW, the best-selling automaker in the world, quite hard. Diess had been stressing the need for significant cost-cutting measures in order to better cope with expected losses.
The upcoming ID.3 all-electric hatchback has had some major software problems that must be fixed before sales get underway this fall. Instead of the hatchback, the US will receive the VW ID.4 crossover, though its new reveal date, originally set for the now-canceled New York Auto Show, has yet to be announced.
Brandstatter's biggest challenges still lie ahead, however. VW previously committed to launching 50 new EV models by 2025 and to sell 22 million EVs by the end of this decade, and it'll be up to Brandstaetter to see that plan through.
"For Volkswagen, the course towards the future has been set. 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. I would like to thank the entire Volkswagen team for their tremendous commitment. We will follow our path resolutely together," said Brandstatter.