VW CEO Mueller's likely exit heralds sweeping changes at carmaker
13 April, 2018, 03:53 | Author: Kathy Ellis
Bernd Osterloh, the company's powerful labor leader, balked at negotiating with him during tough contract talks in 2016, but Diess prevailed with a landmark deal that paved the way to cutting as many as 30,000 jobs and saving 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 billion).
Volkswagen announced the CEO change on Tuesday in a short and cryptic statement, abruptly ending the reign of Mueller who took over at VW a week after it was plunged into its biggest-ever corporate scandal.
Diess joined from BMW in 2015 with a reputation for driving change.
Despite facing billions in fines, vehicle refits and lawsuits relating to its "dieselgate" scandal, Volkswagen's operating results have been robust under Mr Mueller's watch, with sales and profit hitting record highs previous year.
As CEO, Mueller led Volkswagen through the aftermath of the scandal, which included billions in fines and penalties and US criminal charges against several executives, to record sales and strong profits. In fact, its Q1 stats for 2018 are the best in company history.
If Mueller did such a good job under hard circumstances, why change horses in midstream? Yet, he was present in the room on the fateful day when the company's top managers were informed in detail about the depth and breadth of the cheating scandal. Amid opposition from labour leaders, he failed to sell motorbike maker Ducati past year. "Unions and Lower Saxony together have the power to block his appointment".
Continuing, Reuters reports: "But the persistent tug of war between its controlling families, unions and other stakeholders have made it hard to drive through structural changes that investors have said are key to the company fulfilling its potential".
Conventional carmakers such as Volkswagen are racing with industry outsiders such as Waymo and Uber to dominate new ways of getting around, such as autonomous taxis and car-sharing services in which people use vehicles only when they need them instead of owning.
Volkswagen has also put huge emphasis on China, branding the market "decisive" for its future success. Certainly, PR is a factor, especially if the decision is made to do a separate stock listing for the firm's truck and bus division.
On Wednesday four sources close to the company told Reuters that the supervisory board would seek to bring works council executiveGunnar Kilian onto the company's management board to try to secure backing for Diess and his plans. Who can say as of yet?
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