The Volkswagen Group global reshuffle in the wake of ‘dieselgate’ continues, with the latest heavy hitter to step down being Audi AG board member for technical development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg.
In a symbolic and momentous Friday for the embattled German giant, recently appointed Volkswagen Group chairman Matthias Muller also joined Audi AG’s supervisory board, while Audi’s global head of powertrains Stefan Knirsch took over from Hackenberg as board member for technical development.
Hackenberg, a 30-year Volkswagen Group veteran, previously headed up technical development for the Volkswagen brand between 2007 and 2013, where he spearheaded the creation of its ubiquitous MQB modular matrix.
The MQB architecture underpins a great swathe of VW Group vehicles from the Golf and Tiguan, to the Skoda Octavia and Superb, and the Audi A3.
In addition, Hackenberg was responsible for coordinating the development of all the brands of the Volkswagen Group, reflecting his significant influence across the Group’s vast portfolio of vehicles, as perhaps its most senior engineer.
In late September, Hackenberg was one of the first three executives suspended over the dieselgate crisis, alongside Volkswagen Group development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser and Porsche’s development head, Wolfgang Hatz.
This came shortly after Volkswagen AG chairman Martin Winterkorn stepped aside.
Hackenberg has previously denied knowledge of the crisis — in which VW cheated on NOx emissions of about 11 million diesel vehicles — that saw Volkswagen Group shares and sales take a hit. Read all about it here.
Hackenberg joined Audi in 1985 and oversaw the development of that era’s Audi 80, A2, A3, A4, A6, A8 and TT models. He served a four-year stint as Volkswagen’s body development and concept development head, then in 2002 rejoined Audi and helped developed the modular longitudinal toolkit (MLB).
Hackenberg’s replacement Knirsch, billed as “a creative and visionary man of action”, appears to have been distant to the dieselgate fiasco, having been with Porsche AG and then CEO of the Board of Management of Pierburg GmbH to the automotive division of Rheinmetall.