MUNICH -- Volkswagen Group today named five new leaders for its development, sales, design, production and product divisions as the automaker rebuilds its executive ranks following the upheaval spurred by an emissions cheating scandal.
"These structural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency," CEO Matthias Mueller said in a statement announcing the appointments.
The executives will have responsibilities that cover all group brands from the VW, Skoda and Skoda mass-market marques to the Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini luxury units. Most of the appointments were internal.
- Ulrich Eichhorn will lead r&d. Eichorn, 54, was Bentley's engineering chief until 2012 when he become head of the VDA German industry association. He replaces Ulrich Hackenberg, who quit earlier this month after 30 years with the automaker. He was suspended two months earlier together with two other executives closely associated with the development of the VW diesel engine at the center of the scandal, codenamed EA 189.
- Fred Kappler will assume responsibility for group sales. Kappler, 57, has held key roles with the VW brand, VW's FAW China joint venture unit and at Skoda. He was most recently in charge of the company's aftermarket division. Kappler replaces Christian Klingler who left VW in September.
- Michael Mauer will head group design. Mauer, 53, keeps his current role as head of Porsche design. Mauer worked for Mercedes-Benz, Saab and General Motors Europe before he was appointed Porsche design chief in 2004. He succeeds Walter de Silva who retired last month.
- Wolfram Thomas will take charge of group production. Thomas, 59, has been with VW for 35 years, holding key production posts at the VW brand, VW light vehicles and Seat. He is currently head of environment, energy and new business areas. Thomas takes VW's top production job that has been vacant since Michael Macht left in 2014.
- Ralf-Gerhard Willner will have responsibility across the group for product and for the automaker's modular architectures. He is currently head of vehicle concepts at Audi.