FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Volkswagen has picked ex-BMW manager Hinrich Woebcken to run the North American business of its core brand as the German carmaker faces growing criticism of its handling of the diesel emissions scandal in the U.S.
He will be chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Volkswagen Mexico and Volkswagen Group Canada, VW said in a statement today.
Michael Horn remains head of VW Group of America, a position he has occupied since 2014, responsible for VW and the group's other brands in the U.S., including Audi and ultra-luxury marques Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
Four months after the diesel emissions scandal broke, there is no timetable for winning approval of a fix for about 500,000 affected U.S. cars, or for lifting the government's ban on the sale of 2016 VW diesel models.
The U.S. Justice Department this month sued Volkswagen for up to $48 billion for allegedly violating environmental laws.
"The USA is and will remain a key core market for the Volkswagen brand," VW brand boss Herbert Diess said in the statement. With his international experience Woebcken "will make an important contribution to the brand's positive development in the region," Diess said.
Woebcken will take up his position at VW's largest division by sales and revenue on April 1. He was not named to the VW brand's management board, a spokesman said.
Woebcken, 55, is an industrial engineer with extensive international experience in procurement, production and sales, VW said. He worked for BMW from 2004 until 2014 in various purchasing roles.
Last year Woebcken quit Germany's Knorr-Bremse Group , a manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles, after about 15 months. Prior to his stint at BMW, he was managing director at industrial systems and automotive supplier Duerr.
Last September, the automaker picked group veteran Winfried Vahland, previously head of Czech brand Skoda, as new head for the region as it pushed a policy to cede more power from its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany to regional and car brand divisions.
But Vahland, who had previously been seen as a possible candidate for the VW Group CEO post, quit three weeks later. A source said at the time that Vahland left the company because his new position failed to win him a role on the group's management board.
Ryan Beene and Christiaan Hetzner of Automotive News contributed to this report.