BERLIN — Volkswagen on Monday replaced Herbert Diess as chief executive of the VW brand and installed chief operating officer Ralf Brandstaetter to lead cost cutting efforts at the company’s largest plants in Germany. Volkswagen said Brandstaetter would take over on July 1 to give Diess, who remains group chief executive, more leeway to run the rest of the company which includes brands such as Audi, Bentley, Skoda, Lamborghini and Porsche.
Volkswagen said Diess retained overall responsibility for Volkswagen passenger cars and that the management reshuffle would also result in the departure of procurement and components chief Stefan Sommer.
Earlier on Monday, sources told Reuters that Volkswagen’s supervisory board was hosting an extraordinary meeting to discuss replacing Diess as CEO of the VW brand.
The reshuffle at the top of the world’s largest carmaker comes as Diess attempts to get the company’s powerful labour leaders, who control nine of the 19 seats on the supervisory board, to agree to painful costs cuts.
Diess has been pushing to cut costs in Germany to help pay for a 34 billion euro ($38 billion) investment in electric and autonomous cars and 50 billion euros for EV battery procurement.
Diess has also come under fire after Volkswagen was forced to halt sales of its newest VW Golf model because of software glitches at a time the company is also preparing to mass produce VW’s ID.3 electric car.