Herbert Diess new CEO of Volkswagen Group
Thursday night the supervisory board of the VW Group confirmed what was already rumoured a few days ago: Herbert Diess (at the moment CEO of VW) has been chosen to lead the whole Group away from the dieselgate scandal and into the future.
He succeeds to Mathias Müller, former Porsche CEO, who was called to lead/save the group in the autumn of 2015 when dieselgate broke out in the US and Martin Winterkorn was forced to step down. Today VW considers the biggest problems regarding the scandal are over and the company was looking for someone else to lead the group further on.
Hans-Dieter Pötsch, president of the supervisory board, has put it this way: “Herbert Diess has demonstrated with which speed and effectiveness he has been able to implement radical changes for the group.” At the same time Pötsch thanked Mathias Müller “to have steered the group without hesitation through the biggest challenge of its history.”
“Mathias Müller was clearly designated as crisis manager back in 2015”, says Jürgen Pieper, automotive analyst at Metzler bank. Until now dieselgate has cost the group already 25 billion euro, costs for fines and recalls of cars.
Müller has done a tough job but he is named in too many legal procedures and has made a few slips of the tongue (on his salary, on the future of diesel cars…) to stay in place any longer. What the 64 year old Müller is planning to do now is still unknown. Different sources say that he will be able to leave the company with a 45 million euro farewell bonus.
Herbert Diess (59) is Austrian and has clearly the confidence of the all important Porsche family. They lured him away from BMW in the summer of 2015 (just before dieselgate exploded) being unhappy because his way to the top was blocked in Munich. Now he will not only be at the head of the Group but remain CEO of the VW brand and also head of R&D. It recalls the times of ‘superman’ Martin Winterkorn.
Herbert Diess is a mechanical engineer (Munich, 1977-1983) and worked at car supplier Bosch until 1996. He specialized in automation procedures assembling cars and went to BMW where he led a factory in the UK before becoming the CEO for BMW’s two-wheelers and later head of R&D.
Mister Diess was called to Wolfsburg in 2015 to reform the VW brand and he did it with vigour. He is seen as an unresilient cost-cutter and doesn’t care making enemies by doing so. His relationship with the unions is not very friendly, for example. Maybe that’s the reason why Gunar Kilian is appointed new HR Director, to appease the unions.
At the same time he has made the VW brand more profitable again, despite the dieselgate burden, and clearly aims to become world leader with his automotive group, also in electrification. It’s something shareholders like to hear.