Volkswagen Group of America CEO Pablo Di Si has officially been on the job only since September, when his predecessor, Scott Keogh, moved over to develop Scout Motors. The Argentinian previously worked in the U.S. for VW, but had been running the brand's operations in South America when he got the call to move back here.
The 53-year-old executive sees great growth potential for VW in the U.S., and believes that its electric vehicles will help the company increase its market share in what is becoming one of the German automaker's most important markets. Di Si believes it is important that VW's North American region carve out its own identity and make its own market-based decisions. He's already taking steps to speed up VW's time to market and make sure that the products sold in North America match consumer interests here.
Di Si spoke with Staff Reporter Larry P. Vellequette this month. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: You took over from Scott Keogh in September, so you've been on the job for about nine months. What did you expect coming in, and what have you found?
A: Well, I had lived in the U.S. previously for 16 years, but the business has changed dramatically since I was here. So what did I learn? I learned that in the U.S., the legislation is far more complex than in many other countries, because you have these federal and state regulations.
I've been visiting dealers at least once per month and, for me, that has been a quick learning curve on the state of the business — how do the leases work, particularly with the interest rates, what are the preferences of the consumers? We also did some customer clinics, so it was really good for me to listen to them through the dealer network, but to hear from actual consumers who purchased vehicles as well. It's been a good learning journey that I'm still on. And obviously, I'm also learning about our own organization, because each organization is different. We have a huge, complex machine, and a really good team.