The Volkswagen brand has announced the promotion of Ralf Brandstätter from chief operating officer (COO) to chief executive officer (CEO), effective July 1.
The move frees up his predecessor in the role, Herbert Diess, to focus more time on his bigger existing role as chairman of the board of management and CEO for the wider Volkswagen Group.
The shuffle means Diess “will therefore receive greater leeway for his tasks as Group CEO”, according to an official statement. Serving dual roles as boss of Volkswagen AG and the Volkswagen brand itself clearly stretched Diess too thin, as you’d expect.
Volkswagen AG says “the objective will be a stronger focus on the tasks at the top level of the Group and the brand in the current transformation phase of the automotive industry”.
Diess has been instrumental in hastening Volkswagen’s move into electrification, to put the horrors of its diesel emissions saga behind it.
It plans to sell 1.5 million EVs from its software-issue-plagued I.D family by 2025, and challenge Tesla for supremacy. Diess has previously conceded that the Silicon Valley mob is the rival to catch.
Diess will, however, remain the Volkswagen brand’s representative on the Volkswagen AG management board.
Industrial engineer Brandstätter (51) started his Volkswagen career as a shopfitter at one of its plants in Lower Saxony. He’s worked for Volkswagen AG, including a stint at Seat in Spain, ever since.
“Ralf Brandstätter is one of the company’s most experienced managers. Over the past two years, he has already led Volkswagen successfully as COO and played a key role in shaping the transformation of the brand,” said Diess of his successor in the role.
“I am therefore very pleased that Ralf Brandstätter will be forging ahead with the development of the brand as CEO following the far-reaching strategic decisions of the past few years.”
Brandstätter himself added: “For Volkswagen, the course towards the future has been set. On the basis of the Transform 2025+ strategy, the brand is developing into one of the leading providers of carbon-neutral mobility and is on the way to becoming a digital technology company.
“I would like to thank the entire Volkswagen team for their tremendous commitment. We will follow our path resolutely together.”
What is the Transform 2025+ plan? Phase one was the rollout of more SUVs, with the target of 20 different model lines by the end of this year. Phase two is electrification, summed up by this quote:
“The second phase from 2020 sees the launch of a new generation of fully-connected electric cars. Our I.D. family is based on the new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB). With the MEB we are aiming to set an industry benchmark that extends to software and the ecosystem as well as the electric car.”
“The brand mission: the iconic car of the electric age must be a Volkswagen.”
Brandstätter has quite the task…