Volkswagen supervisory board has approved Martin Winterkorn to replace chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder who abruptly resigned last week. Winterkorn was promoted from heading VW’s luxury car brand Audi, which is currently the group’s most successful division. He will have to continue the restructuring that Pischetsrieder initiated to counter shrinking profit margins.
The company, which was started in 1937, is Europe’s biggest carmaker with 21% of market share and the fourth largest in the world, with 9.1%. Its largest brand is Volkwagen and it also makes Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. It has 345,000 workers. For the moment Wolfgang Bernhard, who heads the VW brand, stays with the company. He was brought in by Pischetsreider and analysts had speculated he might quit rather than work with Bernhard.
It is thought Pischetsrieder was ousted due to slow progress in talks between VW and unions on job cuts.
The supervisory board meeting also again urged an “amicable” tie up between lorry makers MAN and Scania. VW is the biggest shareholder in both companies. But as well as saying it supports a merger, VW also said it is looking at other options if that should not go ahead.