Volkswagen looks outside for future leadership

German auto giant’s next CEO could come from one of its rivals such as BMW or Daimler, says current boss

Volkswagen head Dr Martin Winterkorn has told the weekly Stern magazine that new senior management arrivals from Daimler and BMW were both in the running to succeed him.

Volkswagen head Dr Martin Winterkorn has told the weekly Stern magazine that new senior management arrivals from Daimler and BMW were both in the running to succeed him.

 

The long-reigning CEO of the Volkswagen Group has told a German magazine that his successor could come from outside the Wolfsburg establishment.

Engineering maestro and long-term Volkswagen head Dr Martin Winterkorn has told the weekly Stern magazine that new senior management arrivals from Daimler and BMW were both in the running to succeed him.

The 67-year-old Dr Winterkorn has driven the recent infusion of new blood at the top of Volkswagen’s management ranks, with ex-BMW board member for development, Herbert Diess, joining in October 2015 to run the Volkswagen brand and long-time Daimler board member, Andreas Renschler, arriving to lead the truck business.

“The decision about who will succeed me is not an easy one for the supervisory board,” Dr Winterkorn was quoted as saying.

The Volkswagen Group was a complex business, Dr Winterkorn said, and has been headed by engineers for decades. Dr Winterkorn’s predecessor was current supervisory board chairman, Dr Ferdinand Piech.

“A Volkswagen boss has to have a big affinity to our products. He needs to be close to customers and he needs to have a relationship with dealers.

“And he has to have a certain level of social acceptance within the company. Like always, it depends on the personality and it also helps if the candidate is an engineer,” he said.

Diess is an engineer and Renschler’s academic portfolio includes business engineering and banking. Both men are 56 years old.

Other internal candidates include the 61-year-old Porsche CEO, Matthias Müller, who has just been promoted to the Volkswagen Group board, and Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler, though his lack of an engineering degree is said to be a handicap.

On the flip side, the hugely respected Audi engineering boss, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, is 65 years old and besides his Audi board seat, he developed the critical MQB Golf/Passat architecture and has the technical responsibility for all Volkswagen Group models. Yet he has never run a brand.

Dr Winterkorn’s contract expires in 2016 and insiders suggest it will be rolled over at Dr Piech’s request until the launch of the Golf VIII, said to be around 2019.

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