Volkswagen Replaces Audi CEO as Brand Lags Behind Rivals
Volkswagen AG named a new chief executive officer for Audi after the luxury brand fell behind competitors BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.
VW insider Gernot Döllner will take over Sept. 1, Audi said Thursday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg report that the company would remove current CEO Markus Duesmann. VW shares traded 0.7% higher in Frankfurt.
Duesmann, 54, has led the brand — VW’s cash cow alongside Porsche — since 2021. During the former BMW executive’s tenure, Audi for a time led VW’s ill-fated software efforts that have delayed key models. Earlier this month, VW CEO Oliver Blume singled out Audi’s slow progress on innovation as a key area of concern.
Blume, leading VW for less than a year, is seeking to step up improvements at Europe’s biggest carmaker to keep up in the electric-car and digital transition.
After the company sketched out the costliest EV investments in the industry under Blume’s predecessor Herbert Diess, VW is prioritizing execution and product delivery after software glitches irked customers and the carmaker has fallen behind in China. Döllner, a former Porsche executive alongside Blume and 30-year company veteran, last led strategy for the VW group.
Duesmann’s departure is the latest in a string of management shakeups as Blume makes his mark to make the sprawling carmaker more nimble and boost margins. Last year, he shrank VW’s bloated management board, removing the sales and procurement positions. He also installed a new lead for the struggling Cariad software unit.
At VW’s investor earlier this month, Blume said Audi’s model lineup was lagging the competition and its own potential. Its electric models aren’t keeping up in China, the brand’s biggest market, he said. Total brand deliveries have slipped for three consecutive years to 1.61 million last year to the lowest since 2013.
In the first three months of this year, Tesla Inc. pulled ahead with 422,875 vehicles to Audi’s 415,684 units.