Audi on Monday named Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler as its new R&D chief.
Rothenpieler will replace the automaker's current R&D chief Peter Mertens on November 1. Mertens only took up the job in May 2017 but has decided to step down due to health reasons.
“Over the past 16 months, we have initiated a comprehensive transformation at technical development and started the future orientation of the division,” Mertens said in a statement. “This requires a high level of concentration, which I cannot fully manage in my situation. During this time, my health and my family have priority.”
The future orientation he's referring to are the new areas of electrification and self-driving technology. Audi only last month unveiled its first volume electric car, the 2019 e-tron SUV, and plans to add many more EVs in the coming years. The automaker has also confirmed that it will have a self-driving car based on its 2017 Aicon concept hitting public roads in 2021.
Mertens' replacement Rothenpieler has been part of the Volkswagen Group since 1986. His previous roles included head of vehicle development at Skoda and head of R&D at Bentley. Since 2016, he has headed quality management for the VW Group.
There could be more senior executive changes at Audi in the near future. There are rumors that the VW Group is looking to replace embattled Audi CEO Rupert Stadler who has been in prison since June as German authorities complete their investigation into the diesel scandal. A decision was expected to be made in September but VW Group officials said Friday that the decision has been delayed.
Pictured above is Audi's PB18 e-tron concept unveiled during 2018 Monterey Car Week. The concept is the first from a major automaker to feature a solid-state battery.