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Volkswagen gets new boss ahead of sweeping changes

15 April 2018

Herbert Diess has taken charge of the Volkswagen Group as its new CEO, and will also continue to serve as Volkswagen's brand chief. He helped steer the company out of its diesel emissions scandal and into a new era of investment in electric cars.

"We will review all options", Diess said, adding that this could include investing in the businesses or pursuing a sale.

The "dieselgate" scandal - in which VW admitted to installing software in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to cheat regulatory emissions test - has so far cost it more than 25 billion euros ($31 billion) in buybacks, fines and compensation.

Mueller followed a course toward a new era of multibillion-dollar investments in electric cars and SUVs, which surprised industry observers who identified VW with its diesel roots and small cars.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and a burgundy tie, Diess and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch were the only executives to field questions about the carmaker, even though VW announced a raft of new appointments on Thursday.

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In addition to taking on the top job, the 59-year-old Austrian will stay on as VW brand chief and also be head of research and development.

"We believe we can not control and manage this century, but our group activities will be co-ordinated and our political relationships will be well maintained", said Diess, when asked how the company plans to stay ahead of a constantly evolving vehicle industry.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said Diess' track record of cost-cutting points to a more efficient VW under his leadership.

SEAT, Skoda and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) will sit in the Volume segment, while VW and Audi become the Premium brands. Mueller previous year earned about 10 million euros in pay and benefits.

Diess told CNBC's Annette Weisbach at the company headquarters in Wolfsburg Friday that the most important thing is to cope with rapid changes affecting the auto industry.

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VW said on Thursday it would reorganise its management into six broad business areas plus China, to streamline decision-making in the individual operating units. Europe's largest automotive group is poised to replace group chief executive Matthias Mueller this week with Diess, a cost-cutter hired in 2015 from BMW as it seeks fresh impetus for its recovery from an emissions scandal.

Separately, VW said it is preparing its truck and bus division for the capital markets, a step that could include selling shares in the division.

VW also announced that works council executive Gunnar Kilian would replace Karlheinz Blessing as human resources chief. Blume will retain his role as CEO of Porsche.

This decision was made by the Supervisory Board of the company, the press service of the German brand.

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Volkswagen gets new boss ahead of sweeping changes