Dürheimer is the man credited with the success of the Porsche Cayenne and he was previously tasked with creating that same magic for Bentley and its upcoming SUV.
While it’s unclear what projects he will be spearheading over at Audi, his appointment is expected to help soothe the infighting between Audi and Porsche, which dates back several years and has allegedly caused delays in the development of some models.
Dürheimer will be replaced at Bentley and Bugatti by another Wolfgang, in this case Wolfgang Schreiber who is currently the chief of Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles unit.
At the same time, Luca de Meo, the current head of marketing at the Volkswagen Group, as well as the Volkswagen brand, will become the chief of sales for Audi. Another Audi position, the chief of purchasing, will be filled by another Volkswagen Group exec, Bernd Martens.
These and further management appointments will chiefly come into effect on September 1, 2012. It’s unclear if any of the changes were what led to Audi's U.S. chief Johan De Nysschen deciding to resign after a 20-year stint with the company.
One other major change is the establishment of a new role at the group level to monitor the company’s progress in China. The Volkswagen Group delivered some 2.3 million vehicles in China last year, earning it more than $3.2 billion in profits. Heading the new role will be Jochem Heizmann, another senior executive from Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles unit.
Speaking at the announcement of the executive reshuffle, Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn explained that the changes were an important building block for the company’s Strategy 2018 with which it hopes to pass General Motors and Toyota to become the world’s biggest automaker.
“Our clear goal is to continue our successful course of recent years with great momentum and stability,” he said. “I am convinced that now more than ever, the Volkswagen Group has the right people in the right positions to make our Strategy 2018 a success.”
Winterkorn went on to explain that while all the Volkswagen Group brands have a high degree of operational autonomy and responsibility, they will now be able to further intensifying knowledge transfer and management links within the group.
2012 Bentley EXP 9 F SUV concept