FRANKFURT -- Stephan Winkelmann faces a challenge to inject fresh momentum into Audi's Quattro high-performance cars unit when he moves to the division from Lamborghini. Quattro is struggling to match growth at its competitors Mercedes AMG and BMW M.
Winkelmann, 51, will become Quattro's head on March 15, replacing Heinz Hollerweger, 62, who retires after four decades at Audi. Former Ferrari Formula One team boss Stefano Domenicali will be the new Lamborghini CEO.
Not to be confused with its quattro subbrand of all-wheel-drive vehicles, Quattro GmbH is the subsidiary that builds street-legal race car models and is based in Audi’s second major German manufacturing hub in Neckarsulm, Germany.
Its models include the R8 coupe, known as the car of choice for Marvel’s Iron Man fictional movie character Tony Stark, as well as a line of tuned-up series production models such as the Audi RS5.
Quattro sales grew 13 percent last year to more than 17,000 cars, but this is dwarfed by rivals Mercedes AMG and BMW M, which sold 68,875 and 62,400 cars last year respectively.
Quattro has been in flux and Winkelmann's appointment is the second change in management in less than two years. Hollerweger was named Quattro chief in 2014. At the time media reports said former Audi development chief Ulrich Hackenberg had lost confidence in his predecessor Franciscus van Meel following delays to the next-generation R8 and problems with a planned electric version of the sports car. Van Meel is now running BMW M.