Volkswagen bosses in Germany have been sifting through names of possible successors to Stefan Jacoby, who recently quit as CEO of VW of America and took charge of Volvo. There's no white smoke yet from the Wolfsburg conclave, but candidates are beginning to emerge.
Werner Eichhorn, Volkswagen brand sales manager in Germany, has surfaced as a leading contender, company insiders tell German sister publication Automobilwoche. But VW Brazil chief Thomas Schmall also is in the running.
"Eichhorn is a sales professional through and through," a VW executive told Automobilwoche. "He is extremely well-qualified for the job in the U.S."
Eichhorn, 47, has led VW brand sales in Germany for more than two years. Before that he was managing director of Audi in China. He joined VW in 1979 and moved up the ranks as a marketing planner and a district export manager.
But Schmall, 46, is getting a close look, too. VW's success in Brazil lends weight to Schmall's candidacy, sources said. He served as head of VW Slovakia before taking over in Brazil four years ago.
On this side of the Atlantic, two more names are in play. U.S. dealers say VW of America COO Mark Barnes -- Jacoby's interim replacement -- is a contender.
Also being mentioned is Peter Schwarzenbauer, 50, Audi AG board member for sales and marketing and former head of Porsche in the United States. Schwarzenbauer oversaw the U.S. introduction of Porsche's Cayenne SUV and won the support of most dealers during his tenure here from 2003 to 2008.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is counting on substantial growth in North America -- along with China and India -- as he seeks to overtake Toyota as the world's largest automaker by 2018.