DETROIT Gerd Klauss, who helped guide the Volkswagen and Audi brands during rapid growth in the 1990s in the United States, will retire as president and CEO of Volkswagen of America Inc. on Dec. 31.
Klauss, 59, joined VW of America in 1992 as head of Audi of America, and was named president and CEO of VW of America in January 1999 with responsibilities for both the Audi and Volkswagen brands in the United States and Canada.
In recent years, Klauss has had to deal with many challenges, including aging product, declining sales and quality problems for both brands.
His retirement culminates more than 30 years in the automotive industry in both Europe and the United States.
Klauss was not immediately available for comment.
In a statement, Volkswagen AG Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said: On behalf of my colleagues and from me personally, I want to thank Gerd for his dedicated service to our company.
Frank Witter, CFO of VW of America, will take over as CEO. He will remain as CFO as well.
Witter will be joined on a new five-person executive board by Len Hunt, head of the VW brand in the United States; Axel Mees, head of the Audi brand in the United States; Kevin Kelly, head of Volkswagen Credit and Audi Financial Services; and Volker Steinwascher, whose key responsibility will be to coordinate processes between North America and Germany.