STUTTGART -- Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn replaced three Audi board members and added a board level post for VW group in China as part of a top management shake-up to push forward his growth plans for the automaker.
VW brand marketing chief Luca De Meo will lead Audi's sales, taking over for Peter Schwarzenbauer. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer will move to Audi to head development, replacing Michael Dick.
VW commercial vehicles chief Wolfgang Schreiber, 53. will succeed Duerheimer, also 53, as CEO of the Bentley and Bugatti brands.
VW executive Bernd Martens, 46, will be Audi's new purchasing boss. Martens, who currently works in VW purchasing, will replace Ulf Berkenhagen, who will lead procurement at VW-controlled truckmaker MAN.
Jochem Heizmann, 60, will move to a newly created management board post with responsibility for China. Heizmann is currently head of commercial vehicles at VW. Current China chief Karl-Thomas Neumann, 51, was passed over for the board post. Neumann's future with VW is unclear.
The changes take effect September 1.
"We are now further intensifying knowledge transfer and management links within the group," Winterkorn said at a press conference in Stuttgart on Saturday to explain the changes. "All changes are internal. It is important to have people in leadership positions who know the company."
The China board post reflects the increasing important of the automaker's biggest market. VW's Chinese joint ventures plan to invest 14 billion euros ($17.3 billion) in the country through 2016 to expand production. VW will open a new assembly plant in western China as it pushes expansion beyond the country's bustling coast.