The brand is apparently losing its CEO Stefan Jacoby after less than three years on the job. He's reportedly going to Volvo in Sweden as its CEO. Last word was that VW AG was negotiating with Jacoby over his contact with the parent company.
Okay so what happens now?
VW hasn't confirmed Jacoby is gone or talked about a possible successor. It appointed interim heads for both the VW and holding company titles Jacoby held. We don't know if Jacoby is leaving because of a new challenge or because of clashes with the German bosses.
What we do know is that counting Jacoby, three different executives have headed the VW brand in the United States since 2005. Each one has promised to get the brand back on track and to bring models that U.S. buyers want. They all left the company unexpectedly.
Jacoby's predecessor British-born Adrian Hallmark -- who came from Bentley, the British luxury brand acquired by VW -- only ran the brand here from 2005-2007. He was shipped off to VW headquarters in Wolfsburg. Hallmark was executive director for VW in India and Asia-Pacific before he left that job in August. He's now head of sales for Saab.
Before Hallmark, there was Len Hunt, also a Brit from Bentley, who spent only a year and a half as VW's head in America. Rather than return to a job he was offered back at Bentley, Hunt quit and went to Kia. He left that job and is now at Gallup Inc.
Before Hunt took that job both the VW and the Audi subsidiaries were run by long-time executive Gerd Klauss until he retired at the end of 2004.
Underlying all of this shuffling and shifting is Germany's frustration with U.S. sales. VW wants to be the world's biggest selling automaker and the U.S. is stalling those plans.
VW will soon be opening a new factory in Tennessee that will be building an all-new sedan especially designed for America. It desperately needs an executive who understands this market -- not a German on the fast-track who needs experience running a sales subsidiary.