(Yicai Global) June 20 -- Volkswagen Group has appointed a new chairman and board of its China business and will give them greater autonomy to address the German automaker’s declining sales in the world’s biggest car market.
VW director Ralf Brandstätter will chair Volkswagen Group China from Aug. 1, the Wolfsburg-based auto giant said in a statement released on June 17.
“We are realigning ourselves on our most important market worldwide in order to tailor our products and services even faster and more consistently to the needs of our Chinese customers,” Brandstätter said.
Volkswagen and its joint ventures, including its Audi unit, delivered 3.3 million vehicles in China last year, down 14 percent from the previous year, according to the company’s own figures. That was the second annual decline in a row, following a 9.1 percent drop in 2020.
VW also announced that Stefan Mecha, chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group Rus, will become CEO of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand and head of group sales in China, and Marcus Hafkemeyer, executive strategy advisor at Huawei Automotive in Shanghai, will serve as chief technology officer at Volkswagen China.
The new team will “take all major decisions in the region on a cross-brand basis and in close collaboration with the joint venture companies,” VW said. “Volkswagen will pool the technical resources and capabilities of its brands more closely to significantly accelerate the development pace of innovative technologies and digital services in China.”
Brandstätter has been working at Volkswagen for nearly 30 years. He was appointed to the management board of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in 2015 and was made its chief operating officer in 2018, Yicai Global learned. He was promoted to being its CEO in 2020.
His appointment as chair of VW’s China operations also confirmed speculation that Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen China, will step down, as the sales of the ID, an electric vehicle launched by the firm’s Chinese joint venture SAIC-Volkswagen Automotive, sold only 70,600 units last year, almost 10,000 below target.
Editors: Dou Shicong, Futura Costaglione