Volkswagen Group has chosen Matthias Müller to become the German automaker’s new chief executive. Müller was most recently the CEO of luxury carmaker Porsche AG.
Müller, 62, became chief executive and president of Porsche AG in October 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany. Trained as a toolmaker and a student of computer science, Müller started working at Audi in 1977. In 2003 he was responsible for all of Audi and Lamborghini product lines, according to his Porsche biography, and he continued to move up the corporate ladder. Porsche and Audi are two of Volkwagen’s twelve brands.
“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation," Müller said in a statement. "Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry. If we manage to achieve that then the Volkswagen Group with its innovative strength, its strong brands and above all its competent and highly motivated team has the opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”
On Wednesday, Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, 68, stepped down, saying he accepts "responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines," though he said he is "not aware of any wrong doing on my part." He had been chief executive since 2007.
Jeff Thinnes , a former Daimler-Benz vice president, said Volkswagen’s chief executive has a “monumental task” ahead of him.
“Volkswagen has always employed a top-down hierarchical management structure—one that was further exacerbated by Winterkorn’s autocratic style. Changing this will require significant time and commitment,” Thinnes said.
Previously, Müller was the candidate of choice to lead Volkswagen by the powerful Porsche family members on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, but he lost out to Winterkorn.
“In the past, Porsche has had a disproportionally favorable impact on the overall portfolio performance of the Volkswagen,” Thinnes said. “Expect to see the Porsche influence increase significantly throughout the highest echelons of the company.”
Last Friday, U.S. regulators accused the world’s largest automaker of using illegal "defeat device" software that causes nearly 500,000 of its diesel cars to cheat on emissions standards tests. On Tuesday, Volkswagen said the emissions scandal involves 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide.
Volkswagen told dealers to halt sales of both new vehicles and certified pre-owned cars equipped with the 4-cylinder 2.0 TDI engine. Audi also implemented a stop-sale for its model with that same engine, the A3 2.0 TDI.
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