Volkswagen confirms Matthias Muller in top job amid company restructure as sales boss Christian Klinger leaves

 
Catherine Neilan
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Muller (left) replaces Winterkorn, who fell on his sword yesterday (Source: Getty)
orsche boss and Volkswagen board member Matthias Müller has been confirmed as the new chief executive of the embattled German car maker.

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Müller had been widely expected to take on the reins after Martin Winterkorn reluctantly fell on his sword earlier this week, as the emissions-cheating scandal gathered pace. This week Volkswagen has admitted as many as 11 million cars could have been fitted with a "detect device" that enabled it to cheat emissions tests in the US and Germany, where 2.8 million vehicles are thought to be affected.

Müller will remain in his role as chairman of Porsche until a successor has been found.

Interim chairman of Volkswagen's supervisory board Berthold Huber said: “Matthias Müller is a person of great strategic, entrepreneurial and social competence. He knows the group and its brands well and can immediately engage in his new task with full energy. We expressly value his critical and constructive approach.”

Read more: To rebuild trust, Muller should turn to his employees

Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the group's works council, added: “When it comes to leadership appointments the Volkswagen Group does not need hasty decisions. We know and value Matthias Müller for his determination and decisiveness. He does not work on his own, rather he is a team player. That is what Volkswagen needs now.”
Müller said his most urgent task was "to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group" and promised to leave "no stone unturned" to find the culprits behind the scandal.
"Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry. If we manage to achieve that then the Volkswagen Group with its innovative strength, its strong brands and above all its competent and highly motivated team has the opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”
His hire comes amid wider changes to the company, including the departure of sales and marketing director Christian Klinger "as a result of differences with regard to business strategy... not related to recent events". Klinger has left with immediate effect.
Seat chairman Jürgen Stackmann will take over Klingler’s function and Stackmann is in turn being replaced by Audi sales boss Luca de Meo. These changes come into place on 1 October.
The auto giant is also implementing a wider restructure of the business in North America, combining the US, Mexico and Canada businesses to create one unit led by Skoda chairman Winfried Vahland. He is being replaced by Porsche sales boss Bernhard Maier. Michael Horn will remain president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.
A Porsche "brand group" is being created, including Bentley and Bugatti, which will come under the close guidance of Muller.
The Audi brand group with Lamborghini and Ducati will continue as it is now, while mass market car brands Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda will have one board member each.
Volkswagen has also abolished the group production department, headed by Thomas Ulbrich, with immediate effect.
Huber said: “The brands and regions will also have greater independence with regard to production. So it follows that they should also hold the responsibility for these activities.”
“One key point is that we are scaling back complexity in the group. In recent weeks, we have already undertaken important steps such as separating group and brand functions.”
The emissions scandal had had underscored the urgency of this project, Huber said.
“We will not lose any time. The new management model will be implemented at the beginning of 2016.”
Volkswagen is under pressure to draw a line under the scandal, which has seen billions wiped off the company's valuation as the share price fell 30 per cent in one week.

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