Wolfram ThomasGermany – There will be a reduction in the number of managers reporting to Mattias Müller, who became CEO in September after the emissions scandal emerged. In addition, several new appointments will be announced in the first quarter of 2016.

“These structural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency,” commented Müller. “The Group board of management can focus more closely than previously on overarching issues of the future, safeguard cross-brand synergies and further develop overall strategy.”

He added that VW would focus on technological changes “from electrification to the digital transformation” in order to achieve its goal of playing "a decisive role in shaping the transformation of the automobile”.

The appointments are as follows:

  • Wolfram Thomas, a 35-year veteran of VW Group, will take control of Group Production. He occupied various management roles at VW, Seat and VW Commercial Vehicles before taking control of the Kassel plant, Germany, in 1998. He was named executive vice-president of Production at Seat in 2002, became deputy president of the brand in 2009 and was appointed group chief officer for Environment, Energy and New Business in 2012.
  • Ralf-Gerhard Willner will lead Group Product and Modular Toolkit Strategy. A trained toolmaker, he began his career at Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany, in 1987. He held management responsibilities at Audi and VW, then in 2003 became head of Development Vehicle Concepts at Audi Ingolstadt. He assumed the same role at VW Passenger Cars in 2007 before accepting the position of technical director at Italdesign Giugiaro in 2010. He returned to Audi in 2013 as Head of Vehicle Concepts.
  • Ulrich Eichorn will lead Group Research and Development, after serving as MD of the German Association of the Automotive Industry since 2012. He started his career with Ford and later became head of VW Group Research from 2000 to 2003, then board member for Engineering at Bentley in 2003.
  • Fred Kappler will head up Group Sales. Kappler joined VW as a trainee in 1982, held various responsibilities in the export department from 1983 and looked after sales for the brand in north-west Europe from 1995. He moved to China as first vice-president and CFO of FAW-VW in 1997. Kappler became head of sales Germany for VW in 2000, board member for sales at Skoda in 2004, head of sales VW Genuine Parts in 2009 and head of Group Services in 2011.
  • Michael Mauer will take responsibility for Group Design alongside his existing role as head of the Design Department at Porsche, which he has held since 2004. Mauer began his career at Mercedes-Benz in 1986, where he had various duties including design responsibility for the A-Class, SLK and SL models as well as Smart. In 2000, he moved to Saab as executive director design and in 2003 took responsibility for Advanced Design at GM Europe.