The CEO of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess, is stepping down at the end of August; and Porsche CEO Oliver Blume will take over as Volkswagen head from September 1. Blume will be assisted by chief financial officer Arno Antlitz who will be promoted to chief operating officer. Porsche is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, CNN reports.
No official reason was advanced for Diess’ departure. Diess joined Volkswagen in 2015 after leaving BMW, Blume was at Audi, Spanish auto brand SEAT, and Volkswagen before becoming the production boss at Porsche in 2013 and later Porsche CEO in 2015.
Chairman of Volkswagen, Hans Dieter Potsch, expressed appreciation to Diess who joined the company in 2018 for all he did for the automaker and credited him with steering the company through the murky waters of the Dieselgate scandal.
“Herbert Diess played a key role in advancing the transformation of the company. The group and its brands are viable for the future; its innovative capabilities and earning power are strengthened,” Pötsch said. “Not only did he steer the company through extremely turbulent waters, but he also implemented a fundamentally new strategy.”
Under the leadership of Diess, Volkswagen shifted more attention to electric vehicles (EVs) and recently positioned the company to allot €89 billion to expand on EVs over the next five years. The company looks forward to generating a quarter of its sales through 2026 from EVs, a path already charted by Diess.
In 2021, Volkswagen sold about 453,000 battery EVs worldwide and became the third-largest seller of battery EVs that year, coming behind Tesla and GM. But in Europe, Volkswagen beat Tesla and other car manufacturers to sell 310,000 EVs in Europe in 2021. But in pure EVs, Tesla takes the number 1 position.
When compared to Toyota in terms of the total number of vehicles sold, Toyota sold 10.5 million vehicles in 2021 while Volkswagen sold about 9 million within the same year. For perspective, Volkswagen sold 10.9 million vehicles in 2019 while Toyota sold 10.7 million the same year. However, before the planned exit of Diess, the stocks of Volkswagen have been doing badly in recent years – gaining only 10% since 2018 and down by 28% in Germany.