Volkswagen changes boss and style with the departure of Herbert Diess

Volkswagen changes boss and style with the departure of Herbert Diess


FRACFURT | Thunderbolt in the automotive world: the boiling boss of Volkswagen Herbert Diess will leave his post in a few weeks after four eventful years at the head of the first European manufacturer between dieselgate scars and transition to electric.&nbsp ;

This surprise departure was decided “by mutual agreement” during a meeting of Volkswagen's supervisory board, according to a press release.

Herbert Diess had been in the hot seat for months within the giant with twelve brands, plagued by recurring tensions with powerful staff representatives and other executive figures of the group engaged in a profound strategic shift.

Herbert Diess

The change also comes at a time when Volkswagen is planning the IPO of Porsche, its most prized brand, to raise new funds for electrification and massive investments in digital.< /p>

It is precisely the current chairman of the board of directors of Porsche, Oliver Blume, who will take the reins of the manufacturer from September 1, announced the group.

“Rough waters”

Arrived in 2018 at the wheel of Volkswagen to definitively turn the page on “dieselgate”, Herbert Diess embodied the group's ambition to become the world's largest manufacturer of electric cars by 2025, by injecting tens of billions of euros into this fast-paced revolution.

Oliver Blume

His divisive style often pitted him against influential staff representatives but the 63-year-old Austrian had always managed to save his head.

“Herbert Diess played a key role in the continued transformation of company during his tenure,” Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch said in a statement.

“He not only steered the company through extremely choppy waters, he also fundamentally realigned strategically,” he added.

Favorite of the financial markets for his electric ambitions, Herbert Diess had never hidden his ambition to “break the old and sclerotic structures” which, according to him, are holding back the giant in its conversion.

Herbert Diess wants green the image of the manufacturer, multiplying the media appearances, speaking of climate change as the “main challenge of humanity”.

Faced with the “Technoking” of Tesla Elon Musk, for which he did not hide his admiration, Herbert Diess dreamed of being a “Technokaiser”.

Loss of influence

He had joined the group as director of the flagship VW brand just before the 2015 diesel engine rigging scandal broke, which had earned him a promotion flash.

While he provided Volkswagen with one of the most credible transformation strategies among the “old” groups on the automotive planet, he also shook up the Wolfsburg group, where the endorsement of the “ Betriebsrat” is necessary for any strategic decision.

Presented at the end of 2019, the electric ID.3 has become the flagship model of Mr. Diess, reputed to be a “cost hunter”.

These repeated confrontations have earned him a gradual loss of influence.

In June 2020, he handed over the management of the VW brand. At the beginning of the year, Mr. Diess had lost control of operations in China, a strategic market.

He directly supervised the Cariad entity, the Volkswagen unit responsible for coding the software at the heart of the electric and connected revolution initiated by the automotive industry.

“Cariad probably brought too many problems and challenges for the band. Missed production launches and software problems cost a lot of money,” automotive expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer commented on Friday.

“It can be assumed that the new boss will implement a new orientation of the software and therefore of Cariad”, he added.

Nothing foreshadowed the departure this summer of this social network enthusiast who, again on Friday, wished on Linkedin a good “well-deserved summer break to his employees.

Volkswagen's future strongman, Oliver Blume, joined the group in 1994 having since held management positions within the Audi, Seat, Volkswagen and Porsche brands, he has been in charge since 2015.

He has been a member of the Volkswagen Executive Board since 2018.

“What is decisive for success is team spirit, fair -play and passion”, underlined Mr. Blume in a final trip to the outgoing.