Diess Just In: Mueller Out as CEO of VW Group

The Volkswagen Group has made good on its promise to reshuffle its management structure, as Herbert Diess is now taking over from Matthias Mueller as CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

Although it’s not quite clear where Mueller will go from here and who will replace Diess at the Volkswagen brand, where he was (is?) CEO, specifics are expected to be released tomorrow.

Mueller took over as CEO of the Volkswagen in 2015, coming up from Porsche and steering the ship amid the dieselgate crisis.

“Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time,” said Hans Dieter Potsch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. “Together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire Company.”

Although he did his job in turning things around, according to Automotive News he’s leaving his role for failing to reform and streamline the Byzantine group.

Long a concern of investors, the Volkswagen Group is made up of numerous subbrands that make vastly different products (everything from motorcycles to 18-wheelers). Following Dieselgate, VW was intent on making itself a leader in clean technologies across its many brands but hasn’t succeeded in accomplishing that yet.

As a result, Mueller agreed to step down, paving the way for Diess to take over.

According to Automotive News Diess garnered favor with the board for his handling of VW labor disputes. In an effort to cut costs, the BMW import, negotiated 30,000 layoffs for the VW brand despite stern opposition from the works council. As a result, the first quarter of 2018 has been the brand’s most profitable ever.

“In realigning the Volkswagen brand, [Diess] has demonstrated to impressive effect the speed and rigor with which he can implement radical transformation processes,” said Potsch in a statement. “This accomplishment makes him predestined to fully implement our Strategy 2025 in the decisive years that are now to follow.”

Along with his new position Diess will also be responsible for Group Development and Research. Audi’s head, meanwhile, will take Group Sales, and Porsche’s Oliver Blume will be in charge of Group Production.

The Volkswagen Group has also announced that it will divide its brands into three groups: Volume, Premium, and Super Premium (as well as the already established Truck and Bus group).

Just how these changes will express themselves will be seen in the coming days but for now, Diess sees his primary goal as moving forward with green technologies.

My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility,” says Diess. “In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services.”