Bram Schot is leaving Audi: ‘the job is done’
It’s official: Dutchman Bram Schot, who is leading Audi since the fall of Rupert Stadler, is leaving Audi. German Markus Düsmann, ex-BMW, is taking the helm from April. Schot faced difficult times with Audi having to cut costs drastically and prepare the brand for the electric era. “The job is done,” Schot told Dutch newspaper Trouw. “Mission accomplished.”
Already in September, German media wrote Bram Schot, CEO of Audi since the summer of 2018, would have to give way to German Markus Düsmann in spring 2020. Now it is made official by the Board of Commissioners of parent company Volkswagen Group.
Düsmann, former Daimler and later BMW executive, was previously mentioned as the dead certainty successor of Rupert Stadler before the latter toppled from his pedestal in the aftermath of the dieselgate scandal and ended in jail for months.
But his contract at BMW made it impossible to succeed Stadler right away, so the job was assigned to Dutchman Bram Schot, marketing boss at Audi. After an interim period of six months, Schot was asked to stay on as CEO, apparently until Düsmann had his hands free.
For the 58-year-old Schot, a daunting task was waiting: he had to deal with the aftermath of the dieselgate scandal and had to save 15 billion euros in the next years. At the same time, he wanted to invest 40 billion euros, 14 of them directly in electrification.
“And we managed to do this,” Schot told the journalist of Trouw on the phone. “Costs have been reduced very, very much. We’re out of the diesel crisis. We see a smile returning on the faces of the employees and we have new models waiting. And what I think was very important: Audi has become less hierarchic. Something difficult to do in Germany.”
“It means my mission is accomplished, and it’s time for a new adventure,” Schot adds. The message in the media that he had to give way to Markus Düsmann he calls ‘really nonsense’. “The Volkswagen Group has 600.000 employees and twelve car brands. Düsemann could have been placed elsewhere without a problem.”
“No, this was the way it went: Herbert Diess (Chairman of the VW Group e.n.) and I have looked into each other’s eyes, and then I made the decision myself not to carry on. It was already twelve years ago I left the Netherlands, and this is a good moment for something new.”
It wasn’t an easy job though, the last year and a half. 2018 was a fairly disastrous year for Audi. It had to pay 800 million euros as a fine for its involvement in dieselgate. Apart from that, it was ill-prepared for the WLTP emission test transition. Audi performed far worse than competitors BMW and Mercedes.
2019 was to be the year of restructuring and transformation, Schot said. He had started a joint venture in car-sharing with car rental specialist Sixt, among others. At the same time, Audi wanted to have ten hybrid and twenty fully electric models by 2025.
Sacrificing the TT and R8
At the general assembly of Audi, Schot announced in May that two of Audi’s iconic sports cars, the TT and the R8, will disappear from the portfolio. It’s one of the measures to cut costs to be able to invest in electrification. “To be able to focus, we have to scrap things,” he said at that time. “The Audi TT, for example.”
Apart from his job as CEO of Audi, Schot is also responsible for the sales and marketing of the whole Volkswagen Group, including the brands of Volkswagen, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat, and Skoda. In April, he resigns from that position too.
What he is going to do next, he doesn’t know yet. “It’s gonna be a hell of a job to choose,” Schot says, “the automotive world is huge and offering numerous opportunities.”