Volkswagen CEO Diess steps down in surprise move

CEO Herbert Diess will be replaced by Oliver Bloom, the company announced Friday Volkswagen (VLKAF)Porsche Performance Car Division.

Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest automaker, did not give a reason for Diess’ departure.

But A Reuters report Citing unnamed sources, the Porsche and Beach families – who between them hold a majority of the voting rights in Volkswagen – have pushed for a leadership change. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
However, he managed to put the scandal largely in the company’s rearview mirror. And he paid attention Electric vehicles Positions Volkswagen ahead of many established automakers Big change.

Electric focus

VW said 89 billion euros will be spent It aims to develop EVs over the next five years, accounting for half of its projected spending by then, and for EVs to represent a quarter of sales by the end of 2026.

The number of battery EVs sold by VW nearly doubled to 453,000 worldwide in 2021, ranking 3rd among pure EVs sold only by Tesla and General Motors – and most of the latter’s sales came from the Chinese joint venture.VW surpassed all other automakers, including Tesla, in European EV sales by 310,000 vehicles. .

Tesla will still sell more than twice as many pure EVs as VW did in 2021 — and EVs represented just 5% of VW’s vehicles sold last year — but the focus under Diess is key to the company’s future plans.

“Herbert Diess played a key role in advancing the transformation of the company. The group and its brands are viable for the future; its innovative capabilities and earning power are strengthened,” said Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of the company’s board, in a statement. . “He not only steered the company through very turbulent waters, but he also implemented a new strategy.”

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But all is not rosy. While Volkswagen may be ahead of most traditional automakers in the planned switch to electric vehicles, it lags behind Toyota in the race for total vehicle sales — a key metric for the sector.

Last year Toyota posted 10.5 million total car sales in 2021, 1.5 million more than Volkswagen. In 2019, pre-pandemic Volkswagen outsold Toyota by 200,000 cars to 10.9 million vehicles.

What’s more, Volkswagen shares have also lagged under Deese, gaining only about 10% since he was appointed CEO in 2018 — much lower. Toyota (T.M)60% profit at that time. So far this year, Volkswagen (VLKAF)Germany’s listed shares fell 28%.

As part of the management administration, Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz will become Chief Operating Officer.

— CNN Business’ Peter Valdez-Tapena contributed to this report.

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