VW’s management board overnight confirmed Diess’ appointment, saying that Mueller had stepped down from the top spot “by mutual agreement, effective immediately”. The change at the top comes after the car maker’s management board met to discuss how the 80-year-old brand would meet the future challenges it had set itself.
“Matthias Mueller (pictured, below) has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group,” supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Potsch said. “He assumed the chairmanship of the board of management in the fall of 2015 when the company faced the greatest challenge in its history.
“Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire company.”
The group will hold a press conference early this evening Australian time to formally announce the appointment.
As part of the change, Volkswagen’s car division will evolve into distinct product streams: Volume, Premium and Super Premium. Diess, a former BMW research and development executive, will oversee group development and research, and vehicle connectivity.
“The Volkswagen Group’s goal is, and remains, to align the company and its brands with future needs, to safeguard its position among the leaders of the international automotive industry with innovativeness and profitability and to be instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s personal mobility with the strength of our group brands,” Potsch said.
READ NEXT: Dieselgate? No, diesel death spiral
“Herbert Diess is the right manager to do that. In realigning the Volkswagen brand, he has demonstrated to impressive effect the speed and rigor with which he can implement radical transformation processes. This accomplishment makes him predestined to fully implement our Strategy 2025 in the decisive years that are now to follow.”
Mueller had attracted criticism for his slow pace of change after Volkswagen announced in the wake of Dieselgate that it would transition itself to focus on electric cars and “mobility solutions provider”, focusing a large part of its efforts on how people would move around cities in the future.
In other moves, Audi chief Rupert Stadler will become responsible for group sales, and Porsche chief Oliver Blume takes on the role responsible for group production. Blume will also take a seat on Volkswagen Group’s management board.
Blume’s appointment to VW’s management board comes a decade after Porsche attempted to swallow the Volkswagen Group in a spectacular, secret coup that then sports car brand chairman Wendelin Wiedeking and chief strategist Holger Harter almost pulled off – before it all collapsed spectacularly.