Cease-fire at the top of Volkswagen
On Monday, the Supervisory Board of the VW Group had drawn a compromise to solve the internal conflict with CEO Herbert Diess. The board has confirmed its support for the CEO after weeks of commotion over the future strategy to be followed and the top people concerned.
“The strategy, especially the focus on electric mobility and the connected car, has the full support of the Supervisory Board,” said an official press release, emphasizing it was a unanimous decision.
“The directory will implement this strategy in the coming years under the lead of Herbert Diess,” the release adds. Rumors that the CEO would lose his position following the clash with the employers’ representatives are hereby dismissed.
The contested proposals of some of its collaborators for new functions have now been approved. Arno Anlitz, CFO at Audi, will now also exert the same duties at the Group level when his predecessor Frank Witter is leaving in June 2021 on retirement.
As of January 2021, Thomas Schmall, now the head of VW Components, will become Technical Director, and Murat Aksel will also lead the Group’s purchasing department, something he was until now only responsible for at Volkswagen.
According to the German press, during his arm-wrestling with the President of the Supervisory Board, Bernd Osterloh, CEO Diess has played poker. He asked for an anticipated prolongation of his contract, which was already running until 2023.
This was a demand he didn’t obtain. Still, thanks to the ‘vote of confidence’ on Monday, there is now “an absolute consent between the supervisory board, the directory, and the representatives of the employees about the goals to achieve,” Mr. Osterloh declared.
Tensions had mounted severely between the employee representatives and Herbert Diess (62), Group CEO, since April 2018. Diess was determined to “tear down ancient and sclerosed structures within the group” and wanted to finally turn the page on dieselgate and launch Volkswagen into the electric era.
In June, Herbert Diess had lost his responsibility as CEO of Volkswagen (going to the number two Ralf Brandstätter), to remain solely the Group CEO after a violent clash with the unions. In a public letter, the unions denounced “massive management errors” during the launch of two new models, the new Golf (8th generation) and the maybe even more important electric ID.3.
No selling out
“In the coming years, we will be continuing to invest in the car of the future, and simultaneously, we will reduce the fixed costs and the material costs all over the world and within all members of the group,” Herbert Diess declared.
In electric mobility, Diess has officially announced that he wanted to catch up with Tesla as soon as possible. On Monday, the Supervisory Board has also unanimously decided that Lamborghini and Ducati (motorbikes) are “important parts of the Group to be preserved”.
There had been ample rumors of an imminent ‘departure’ of those two iconic brands in the press, be it by selling them or going IPO. The other super-exclusive brand, Bugatti, hasn’t been mentioned. Here the rumors of selling remain persistent.