A changing of the guard has been announced in Audi’s top office, and it comes just days after the head of the Volkswagen Group said the luxury brand is falling behind.

Gernot Döllner is taking over from Markus Duesmann as Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, effective from September 1, 2023.

Duesmann is resigning, and will no longer have a seat on Volkswagen AG’s Group Board of Management.

Reuters reports word from a source close to Volkswagen that Duesmann was ousted, with managers at the highest level at Audi reportedly dissatisfied with the brand’s performance.

The head of the Volkswagen Group has spoken publicly about Audi’s difficulties of late.

Earlier this month, Group CEO Oliver Blume said Audi had “massive potential” but admitted it was “lagging the competition”, particularly with electric vehicles (EVs).

Audi currently has only the Q4 e-tron, e-tron (soon to be Q8 e-tron) and e-tron GT, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz each have at least twice as many EVs.

“We did not defend the [brand’s] progressive leadership in its position against key competitors. We also faced severe software problems that delayed the launch plan of exciting electric products,” he said in remarks reported by Automotive News Europe.

“The footprint of the group is currently highly dependent on China and the battery electric vehicle lineup in particular is not competitive in comparison with this market.”

Blume flagged there were “huge opportunities” with its upcoming electric vehicles, including the Q6 e-tron due in 2024 and various upcoming RS-badged high-performance EVs.

New Audi boss Gernot Döllner joined the Volkswagen Group in 1993 and served in a number of management roles, including as head of the Panamera line.

Since 2021, he has been the head of product strategy for the Group.

“[Duesmann] has brought great foresight and vision to planning and driving forward key strategic decisions, including, first and foremost, the electrification strategy. Audi will be able to build further on these cornerstones in the future,” said the Chairman of Audi’s Supervisory Board, Manfred Döss.

“At this point in time, Gernot Döllner is the right person to further strengthen the company’s product strategy and its position in key markets.

“Together with the entire Board of Management, he will add the next chapter to Audi’s successful strategy implementation.”

William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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