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by Tim Beissmann

There are changes at the top at Volkswagen AG, with Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Volkswagen all involved.

Porsche’s head of research and development, Wolfgang Duerheimer, has been appointed Chairman of the Executive Board at Bentley Motors and President and CEO of Bugatti. He will also assume the role of motorsport director for the Volkswagen Group.

Mr Duerheimer will be replaced at Porsche by Wolfgang Hatz. Mr Hatz worked as an engineer and project leader in engine development at BMW from 1983 to 1989. He shifted to Porsche in 1989, then Volkswagen Group in 2001.

From February 1 next year, Mr Duerheimer will replace Franz-Josef Paefgen, who is retiring after more than three years at the helm of Bugatti and eight with Bentley.

Mr Duerheimer has his work cut out at Bentley especially, with global sales halved in 2009, down to just 4000 sales.

Porsche is aiming to double its global sales by 2014 to 150,000 per year. Increasing the model range – with new vehicles like the freshly confirmed Cajun – is a large part of the strategy.

Meanwhile, German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn is likely to have his contract extended until 2016.

It is understood Mr Winterkorn – who assumed the head job in January 2007 – has a high level of support among some of the more powerful decision-makers, including Lower Saxony, the German state with a 20 percent stake in Volkswagen.

In his time at the helm, Mr Winterkorn has overseen the purchase of a 20 percent stake in Suzuki and has been behind the brand’s manufacturing push into China, India and the US.

He is also widely believed to be the right man to oversee the consolidation of Porsche AG into the Volkswagen fold.




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