VW Group Names New Design, R&D Chiefs In Management Reshuffle

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In the wake of its diesel emissions cheating scandal, the Volkswagen Group is undertaking a number of strategies to help curtail spending as well as ensure mistakes like the installation of the “defeat device” doesn’t happen again. This includes streamlining information directed to the CEO in an effort to foster faster decision-making and more efficient action.

To that end, functions in the area of responsibility headed by CEO Matthias Müller are being restructured. The number of top managers reporting direct to the CEO has been almost halved, and new appointments to several posts will take effect in the first quarter of 2016.

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Among the new appointments are Ulrich Eichhorn as the new R&D chief, Michael Mauer as the new design chief and Ralf-Gerhard Willner as the product chief and key modular platform strategist.

Eichhorn replaces Ulrich Hackenberg who was placed on suspension following the discovery of the scandal and resigned from the automaker earlier this month. Eichhorn, who has a mechanical engineering background, started his career with Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] before moving to VW in the 1990s. He briefly headed the group’s research department in the early 2000s and most recently was serving as the Managing Director of the German Association of the Automotive Industry.

Mauer, who is to head design for all VW Group brands, replaces Walter de Silva who announced his resignation in November. Mauer is currently the design chief for the Porsche brand which he has led since 2004. He started his career at Mercedes-Benz and has previously worked for General Motors Company [NYSE:GM].

Finally, Willner, who like Eichhorn has a mechanical engineering background, first joined Audi in the late ‘80s. In his previous roles, he’s helped develop concepts for Audi and later VW. He took up a senior role at the Italdesign Giugiaro design skunk works in 2010 and most recently headed up the vehicle concepts department at Audi.

“The team in the CEO's area of responsibility is almost complete, with excellent colleagues from within and outside the group taking up the new posts,” VW Group’s CEO said. “We are focusing in particular on the technological changes that impact the future of mobility—from electrification to the digital transformation."

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