Volkswagen's new CEO wants change - and fast

VW set to name new chief executive today

Under his leadership in 2017, the auto group went on to turn in record annual sales of €230.7bn and pre-tax profits nearly doubled at €13.9bn.

Shares in Volkswagen closed almost two percent higher to 176.60 euros ahead of the closely-watched board meeting, outperforming the Dax index of leading shares that was up almost one percent.

Germany's Handelsblatt business publication and the national Bild daily reported that Mueller would be replaced as early as Friday by Diess, a former BMW executive who joined Volkswagen in 2015.

Diess' predecessor Mueller had already steered the mammoth carmaker into a massive restructuring, aiming to offer electric versions of many of its models and streamline operations over the coming decade. VW has also had to pay out billions of euros in fines following its 2015 emissions cheating scandal.

Herbert Diess - the Austrian 59-year-old head of the VW Group's flagship Volkswagen brand - was appointed late Thursday to take over from Matthias Mueller as CEO of the world's largest automaker by sales. The new auto brands will be Volume, Premium and Super Premium. As well as his role as the Chairman of the Board of Management, Diess will also be responsible for Group Development and Research, Rupert Stadler, current Audi CEO, will oversee Group Sales, while Oliver Blume, Porsche CEO, will take responsibility for Group Production.

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Upon being asked what could happen to MAN Diesel and Renk, Diess said the company has assets which will be subject to a review.

As the names suggest, the brands will be divided according to product value, with the likes of Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT found in the Volume category, while Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley will make up the Super Premium segment of the business. However, the company intends to find a manager for the combined unit in due course and told Automotive Logistics it would be fleshing out the details of the new structure in the weeks and months ahead.

He was installed after Mueller's attempts to reshape the automotive group foundered amid labour opposition, including his plans to sell motorbike brand Ducati.

"We believe we can not control and manage this century, but our group activities will be co-ordinated and our political relationships will be well maintained", said Diess, when asked how the company plans to stay ahead of a constantly evolving vehicle industry. Excessive spending and poor budget discipline were eroding profit margins even before the carmaker's diesel-emissions scandal erupted in September 2015.

Diess appeared to be on his way out at VW after a public clash with Osterloh who then accused him publicly of breaking promises and unduly pushing cost cuts. The last resigned after "diesel scandal". "But, as is well known, that issue was laid to rest a long time ago".

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