Dealers may not know much about the BMW executive tapped to take the reins of Audi of America Inc. on March 1, but Axel Mees is familiar with selling German luxury cars in this market.
During a 24-year career at BMW, Mees spent several years in the mid-1990s as the vice president and general manager of the central and southern regions for BMW of North America LLC. In that role, he worked with dealers as the automaker's assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C., came on line.
Mees also headed BMW do Brasil from 1998 to 2000, when he was named vice president for merchandising and accessories for BMW Group brands.
But on March 1 he turns his attention from sunglasses and keychains toward competing with his former employer.
Mees' hiring is part of a shuffling of top executives announced last week by Volkswagen of America Inc.
Len Hunt, 48, Mees' predecessor as Audi chief, is shifting over to run the Volkswagen brand. Hunt had run Audi in the United States and Canada since 1999. He replaces Frank Maguire, 60, who is retiring.
The changes are effective March 1.
Hunt and Mees will report to Gerd Klauss, CEO of Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Canada Inc.