Coming to America: a Volkswagen Group Canada veteran tasked with filling a leadership void at Audi amid a sales decline and new electric vehicles on the horizon.
Audi America names Canadian exec for top spot
Daniel Weissland, CEO of VW's Canadian operations and a former head of Audi Canada, last week was named president of Audi of America. He will take over four months after the abrupt resignation of Mark Del Rosso, who had been in charge for less than half a year.
His appointment is effective Sept. 1. Cian O'Brien, who had filled in as interim president, will remain COO.
Weissland, 46, joins Audi of America amid a down year for the brand. Through July, Audi's U.S. sales slipped 5 percent from a year earlier to 120,810 vehicles, driven by a 13 percent plunge in car sales. That compares with a 3.8 percent decline at Mercedes-Benz, not including vans, during the same period and a 2.3 percent gain in BMW sales. Up until last year, Audi had been white hot, posting year-over-year monthly U.S. sales gains over nearly nine years.
"Daniel is a strong leader of people with deep expertise in our business and a track record for driving consistent sales growth, which makes him an excellent fit for President of Audi of America," said Hildegard Wortmann, member of the Audi Board of Management, in a statement.
In Canada, Weissland led VW Group as it grappled with the fallout from the diesel emissions scandal and a softening new-vehicle market. Despite that, VW Canada sold 118,448 new vehicles in 2018, a record for the company. Sales in 2019 were down 8 percent to 63,023 vehicles through July.
His tenure as VW Canada CEO began in December 2017, after he spent about two years as president of Audi Canada. Before that, he held various roles with Audi and Volkswagen in Europe and the Middle East, dating to 1997.
Weissland steps into the job as Audi prepares for a host of redesigns and freshenings in the coming year. A redesign of the A3 sedan is expected in 2020, while the A4 and A5 cars and Q7 crossover will be freshened.
Audi, meanwhile, launched its e-tron battery-electric crossover this year and is expected to launch a fully electric Q4 e-tron crossover and e-tron GT sedan in 2021.
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