Surprise departure of Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess

The boss of the automobile giant Volkswagen Herbert Diess will leave the management of the group to be replaced from September by the current chairman of the management board of Porsche, Oliver Blume, a subsidiary of the group targeting the stock market, Volkswagen announced on Friday.

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This surprise departure was decided “by mutual agreement” during a meeting of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, according to a press release. Herbert Diess had been in the hot seat for months against a backdrop of internal turbulence within the twelve-brand giant engaged in a forced march towards the electric and connected car. But he had so far always saved his head.

A reputation as an uncompromising manager

“Herbert Diess played a key role in the continued transformation of the company during his tenure” at the head of Volkswagen and the eponymous brand, said chairman of the supervisory board Hans Dieter Pötsch in a press release. “He not only steered the company through extremely difficult waters, but he also fundamentally realigned it strategically,” he added.

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At the end of 2021, Herbert Diess, who came from BMW with a reputation as an intransigent manager, emerged victorious from a period of tension with powerful staff representatives.

At the origin of the internal turbulence, the management style and the electrification strategy of the fiery Austrian boss, who took the wheel of Volkswagen in 2018 with the ambition to definitively turn the page on dieselgate, the rigged engine scandal that tarnished the group’s image in 2015.

Since the beginning of the year, Herbert Diess had already had to cede responsibility for operations in China, a strategic market, to another heavyweight in the company, obtaining in compensation the supervision of the Cariad entity, a Volkswagen unit responsible for coding software at the heart of the electric and connected revolution initiated by the automotive industry.

A new boss in September

Ironically, due to the slow progress made by Cariad, Porsche recently decided to break off the partnership with this unit to develop its own IT solutions.

The future strongman of Volkswagen, Oliver Blume, joined the group in 1994 having since held management positions within the brands Audi, Seat, Volkswagen and Porsche, which he has led since 2015. He is a member of the management board of Volkswagen since 2018.

“What is decisive for success is team spirit, fair play and passion,” said Olivier Blume in a final trip to the outgoing.

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