Volkswagen Replaces Audi Chief Amid Pressure to Electrify

Volkswagen will appoint Gernot Derner to succeed Markus Dussmann as CEO of luxury brand Audi and to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

Audi said in a statement on Thursday that Dörner, Volkswagen’s chief strategist, will assume a new role from September 1. Audi is profitable but is struggling to compete with the switch to battery power and the growing threat of Chinese automakers.

Herbert Diess, who was Volkswagen’s chief executive before Oliver Blume took over in September, joined BMW three years ago, hoping it could help the brand innovate and boost sales of its electric models. brought Mr. Dussmann to Audi.

The company’s 2022 profits are up 40% thanks to its decision to prioritize luxury cars over more affordable ones to overcome chip shortages caused by supply chain disruptions related to the coronavirus. totaled €7.6 billion ($8.3 billion). Pandemic.

Audi is currently working on the final generation of its internal combustion engine models and plans to add 10 new electric models to its lineup ahead of plans to produce only EVs from 2026.

Audi is the second most important luxury line after Volkswagen’s Porsche. While Porsche has successfully entered the electric vehicle market, Audi’s strength lies in the continued popularity of internal combustion engines.

The company now faces stiff competition from big electric car makers such as Tesla and Chinese automakers. Blume expects Audi to maintain 14% growth and said he hopes Audi will better align production with both VW and Porsche.

With Delner at the helm of the company, it will be easier. He worked with Blume for many years when he was a top-level manager at Porsche, which is owned by the Volkswagen Group as well as Audi.

Mr. Delner has been working at Volkswagen since 1993 while completing his Ph.D.He was head of Porsche’s four-door division panamera sedan A series he helped develop.

Delner’s main focus will be on negotiating the opening of a factory in North America. Audi’s main competitors, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, both of which have production facilities in the US, can produce almost twice as many vehicles for the US market. Audi’s SUVs are popular with U.S. drivers, and the company is considering developing electric versions of some of its flagship models.

Audi’s internal combustion engines remain popular in China, but the brand will need to ramp up production of electric vehicles to remain competitive with popular local makers such as BYD and Chery.

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