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Audi reshuffles boardroom as Dieselgate fallout bites

By Barry Park, 29 Aug 2017 News

Audi reshuffles boardroom as Dieselgate fallout bites

The biggest shakeup in years will help the German luxury car maker prepare for its battery-fuelled future

THE fallout from Dieselgate continues to bite at Audi, with the car maker announcing the biggest restructure of its boardroom since the VW emissions scandal broke two years ago.

The company – the Volkswagen Group’s best earner – announced it would replace key longstanding board members including its manager of finance, Axel Strotbek, production chief Hubert Waltl, human resources chief Thomas Sigi, and sales head Dietmar Voggenreiter.

The shake-up comes three months after Volkswagen Group’s supervisory board voted to extend the tenure of Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler – who has steered Audi through the scandal that scooped up more than 16,000 of the brand’s luxury cars sold here – by an extra five years.

No reason was given for the changes at the top of Audi’s management structure. However, in the wake of the restructure, Stadler said the company’s goal was to “now set the course for the future and to systematically move forward with our transformation towards e-mobility, digitisation, and mobility services”.

“Our growth plan and Strategy 2025 provide the roadmap,” he said.

Audi announced earlier this year it would cut back on research and development costs – believed to be linked to internal combustion engines – to help pay for an accelerated battery-powered push that it hopes will leave the Dieselgate scandal in its wake. Audi plans to launch five electric cars on the world market by 2022.

It’s part of a big shift at Volkswagen Group that is rebranding the global carmaker as a leader in electric car development.

As part of the move, Audi, and its sister performance brand Porsche, have both quit LMP1 endurance racing, where they developed advanced petrol-electric hybrid systems capable of tackling the demands of the annual Le Mans 24-hour race. Instead, they will join Formula E, a lower-cost battery-powered open-wheeler race series that appears to be a better fit with the company’s electron-based direction.

Audi’s EV push will start next year with the e-tron quattro, a small battery-powered five-door SUV that Audi says will be built in Brussels from 2018. A four-door Sportback version of the e-tron is expected to arrive in 2019.

Audi will also collaborate with Porsche to develop a new platform that will underpin future products, saving money by sharing modules and components between the brands.