Surprise relay in front of the Volkswagen dome. The German auto giant announced this Friday that its CEO, Herbert Diess, will step down from the position effective September 1. His position will be filled by Oliver Blume, current director of Porsche (one of the group’s brands). Arno Antlitz, previous CFO, takes over the role of COO.
Diess’ abrupt departure marks the culmination of disputes the top executive has had with the German manufacturer’s powerful unions and other key stakeholders at the company. The background to this fight was the company’s strategy review and cost cutting. Volkswagen plans to list its most valuable brand, Porsche, in order to raise liquidity to fund the necessary investments in electrification and computerization of its vehicles.
Diess, 63, was hired by the competitor BMW in 2015. Shortly thereafter, Volkswagen admitted to having tricked millions of diesel vehicles into passing emissions tests, the so-called scandal dieselgate. Also on his resume is that he was certainly the leader in the sector that most aggressively pushed electrification, earning him praise from Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla.
Blume, 54, has been in the line to succeed Diess for some time, although with his contract extension to 2025 his options seemed to be dwindling. His beginnings in the automotive group relate to Audi, although he later passed through other manufacturer brands such as the Spanish Seat or Volkswagen itself before being appointed production manager at Porsche in 2013 dieselgatealthough the brand had also received engines from Audi that did not meet emissions regulations.