VW Group names Markus Duesmann as new Audi chief

Markus Duesmann, board member of German luxury carmaker BMW attends the company’s annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 21, 2018. — Reuters pic
Markus Duesmann, board member of German luxury carmaker BMW attends the company’s annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 21, 2018. — Reuters pic

FRANKFURT, Nov 15 — Sprawling 12-brand German car giant Volkswagen said today Markus Duesmann would take the helm at high-end subsidiary Audi, also joining the group-wide executive board.

The former BMW purchasing chief and engineer will head Audi from April, hoping to secure a turnaround at the struggling manufacturer — long one of the VW group’s flagships.

Duesmann, 50, “will do everything in his power to leverage the full potential of the Audi brand”, VW chief executive Herbert Diess said in a statement.

At BMW and previously Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, Duesmann also headed development in the high-end manufacturers’ Formula One teams.

On top of leading Audi, the new boss’s role on the board will include overseeing research and development across the VW group, taking over the portfolio from Diess.

Under departing head Bram Schot, Audi reported falling sales, revenues and operating profits over the first nine months of 2019.

It suffered more than other German manufacturers from the introduction last year of the new WLTP emissions testing standards in the European Union, which created bottlenecks in production.

Audi has also ramped up spending on new technologies, including battery-electric and hybrid vehicles, connectivity and autonomous driving.

Group-wide, VW plans to spend some €60 billion (RM275 billion) on research into such future technologies by 2024, it announced separately today, with 75 electric and 60 hybrid vehicles planned in the next decade.

Meanwhile increased labour costs have also weighed on Audi’s bottom line.

With the global auto market slowing, Audi recently slashed the night shift in two of its factories, without letting any of its employees go.

And the firm also had to pay last year an €800 million fine over its role in the “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal that has dogged VW since 2015.

Its engineers are suspected of having helped developed software used to make cars emit less pollutants under lab testing conditions than on the road. — AFP

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