Volkswagen replaces Audi chief amid pressure to electrify

Volkswagen replaces Audi chief amid pressure to electrify

Volkswagen is replacing the chief executive at its luxury brand Audi, and has named Gernot Dollner to replace Markus Deussmann, as the company looks to accelerate its transition to electric vehicles.

Audi said in a statement on Thursday Mr Dollner, who previously served as Volkswagen’s chief strategist, will take up his new role on 1 September. Audi, though profitable, is struggling to convert to battery power and compete with the growing threat from Chinese carmakers.

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen chief executive before Oliver Blume takes over in September 2022, brought Mr. Duesmann to Audi from BMW three years ago with the hope that he would help the brand innovate and strengthen sales of its electric models. can help.

The company’s earnings are expected to rise 40 percent to 7.6 billion euros, or $8.3 billion, in 2022, attributed to a decision to prioritize its high-end vehicles over more affordable cars as it faced a shortage of chips due to supply chain disruptions linked to the coronavirus. worked through. Epidemic.

Audi is now working on its final generation of combustion engine models and plans to bring 10 new electric models to its lineup, before moving to producing only EVs starting in 2026.

Audi is Volkswagen’s second most important luxury line after Porsche. Although Porsche has successfully entered the market for electric vehicles, Audi’s strength has been the continued popularity of its combustion engine vehicles.

Now, the company is facing stiff competition from major manufacturers of electric vehicles such as Tesla and Chinese automakers. Mr. Blume has said he expects the company to maintain 14 percent growth and would like to see Audi better coordinate its production with both VW and Porsche.

It will be easier with Mr. Dollner as head of the company, as he worked with Mr. Blume for many years when both were top-level managers at Porsche, which like Audi is owned by Volkswagen Group.

Mr. Dollner has been working at Volkswagen since 1993, while still earning his doctoral degree. He served as the head of Porsche’s 4-door panamera sedan series, which he helped develop.

Mr. Dollner’s main focus will be to advance negotiations on opening a factory in North America. Audi’s main competitors, BMW and Mercedes, both have production facilities in the United States, allowing them to produce almost twice as many vehicles for that market. Audi’s SUVs are popular with American drivers and the company is looking into developing electric versions of several of its flagship models.

In China, Audi’s combustion engine vehicles remain popular, but the company needs to ramp up production of electric vehicles if the brand is to remain competitive with popular local producers including BYD and Chery.

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