VW global marketing chief quits

Thomas was a high flyer at Nissan before joining VW in 2011.

The global marketing head for the Volkswagen brand, Simon Thomas, is leaving after about a year in the post. Thomas will be succeeded by Xavier Chardon, the VW brand's European sales chief.

Thomas' other post -- marketing boss for all of VW Group -- will be taken over on an interim basis by Christian Klingler, the automaker's board member for sales and marketing.

"I resigned in June and await a date when I can leave the company," Thomas told Automotive News Europe via email on Friday. "I leave the company of my own wish after three very interesting years."

Thomas declined to elaborate on why he was leaving VW.

Strong growth in China boosted sales of the VW brand worldwide by nearly 4 percent in the first half of the year. But deliveries remained weak in many European markets and continued to fall in South America and the United States.

Still, for the first time in the company's history, Volkswagen sold more than 3 million VW-brand cars worldwide in the six-month period ending in June.

The company sold 3.07 million cars worldwide in the first half of 2014 compared with 2.95 million last year.

Klingler, in a statement earlier this month, said "developments in the first half year were stable." He noted strong demand for the company's best-selling model -- the Golf.

“The situation on global markets will remain challenging in the second half of the year and will keep us very much on our toes,” Klingler said.

In a separate statement detailing the VW Group's first-half sales, Klingler said the company "is entering the second half of the year with confidence. But we are also well aware of the tasks that lie ahead.”

Thomas, 54, was a top executive at Nissan where he was head of European sales and marketing before he joined the VW brand in 2011 as U.K. chief.

Thomas succeeded Juergen Stackmann last September as global head of marketing for VW's passenger cars after Stackmann was named become CEO of VW's Spanish unit, Seat.

An Englishman, Thomas began his automotive career as an apprentice technician in 1976 at a Ford dealership, later joining the Austin Rover Group.

His successor, Chardon, 42, started his career with Citroen Italy in 1994. He was Citroen's general manager in France before he joined the VW brand in 2009 as head of sales for Europe.

Wolf-Stefan Specht, 45, succeeds Chardon as VW brand's head of sales for Europe. Specht joined VW in 2001 and is currently the automaker's head of sales for India and the Far East. Chardon and Sprect start their new jobs on Sept. 1.

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