Volkswagen Brand Gets New CEO: Ralf Brandstatter

Forget all about that Porsche dude. The current CEO of Volkswagen Group’s sporting car brand will not become the new head of the automaker’s namesake brand. Instead, a supervisory board meeting Monday saw Herbert Diess punted, replaced by the brand’s former chief operating officer.

Come July 1st, Ralf Brandstätter will take the helm, tasked with guiding the brand through troubled water and into an electrified future.

While Brandstätter, who joined the company in 1993 and accepted his current role in 2018, will take over Diess’ job at VW, his predecessor won’t be at loose ends. Far from it. He’ll remain in charge of the broader VW Group.

“The CEO of the Volkswagen Group, Dr. Herbert Diess, who had previously been responsible for both functions will, therefore, receive greater leeway for his tasks as Group CEO. Within the Group Board of Management, he will retain overall responsibility for Volkswagen Passenger Cars and the Volume brand group,” the automaker said in a release, adding that the move will allow Diess to focus more strongly on navigating the company through the industry’s “transformation phase.”

VW has very lofty sales goals for its nascent crop of electric vehicles. That line started with the Euro-market ID.3 launched late last year, but the vehicle family will ultimately give birth to numerous body styles in the next few years — including the upcoming ID.4 crossover seen above. At the end of 2019, VW said that, by 2023, the automaker would produce 1 million vehicles per year, with that output rising to 1.5 million by 2025. In early March, the automaker doubled down, promising 50 new EV models by 2025, with 22 million EVs sold by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, the very first vehicle built atop VW’s dedicated MEB electric architecture is having teething problems. If Diess thinks Brandstätter is the wrong man for the job, he didn’t show it.

“Ralf Brandstätter is one of the company’s most experienced managers. Over the past two years, he has already led Volkswagen successfully as COO and played a key role in shaping the transformation of the brand,” Diess said. “I am therefore very pleased that Ralf Brandstätter will be forging ahead with the development of the brand as CEO following the far-reaching strategic decisions of the past few years.”

While the sales plunge and resulting cash burn born of the coronavirus pandemic has some automakers rolling back electrification efforts, VW has set a course and plans to stick to it.

“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,” Brandstätter said, thanking the team in Wolfsburg.

“We will follow our path resolutely together.”

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC