Home Business VW’s CEO Diess to step down after tumultuous tenure, Blume to succeed

VW’s CEO Diess to step down after tumultuous tenure, Blume to succeed

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BERLIN — Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess is stepping down as chief executive, Europe’s top carmaker said on Friday, after a four-year tenure in which he pushed VW’s electrification strategy and repeatedly clashed with its work council and board.

Diess will leave his role on September 1 and will be succeeded by Oliver Blume, chief executive of Volkswagen-owned Porsche AG, who will retain his position as head of the sportscar brand alongside his new responsibilities.

Blume has worked at VW Group for his whole career, joining in 1994 on the international trainee program at Audi and chairing Porsche’s board since 2015. “My focus will be on the customer, brands and products,” he said in a statement.

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Diess’ future at Volkswagen has been in doubt on multiple occasions during his tenure, most recently in autumn last year over clashes with the company’s powerful works council about his electrification strategy and management style.

His departure, three years ahead of the end of his contract in 2025, comes as the company is pushing to beat Tesla at becoming the world’s top electric vehicle maker, catch up on software and execute an IPO for its Porsche sports car brand.

Diess, in a LinkedIn post before the announcement of his departure, said: “After a really stressful first half of 2022 many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved summer break.”

A native of southern Germany’s Bavaria, Diess joined Volkswagen from BMW in July 2015, just months before news broke that the carmaker had cheated emissions tests in the United States.

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Diess pushed the VW brand to cut costs and bring new vehicles to market faster, as well as accelerating its electrification strategy in a bid to beat Elon Musk, who he has frequently praised as an effective CEO.

Cox Automotive executive analyst Michelle Krebs said the turmoil around Diess had perhaps become a distraction at VW. “It shouldn’t be a surprise because his tenure has been rocky and controversial,” she said.

Bernd Pischetsrieder, Volkswagen CEO from 2002-2006, and Wolfgang Bernhard, VW brand chief from 2005-2007 were forced out of their jobs after repeated clashes with VW’s works council. (Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Tom Sims, additional reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Louise Heavens, Elaine Hardcastle)

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