On June 29, the Audi brand of Volkswagen Group announced a major personnel change. Gernot Dollner, vice president of products and group strategy at Volkswagen, will succeed Markus Duesmann, Audi's current CEO, as Audi's new chief executive, the appointment will take effect from September 1, 2023, Audi said on its website.
The reshuffle of Audi's chief executive is the second major leadership reshuffle since Volkswagen group CEO Oliver Blume took over last September. In May, due to serious delays in research and development of CARIAD, a software subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, and years of losses, Obermu announced that it would lay off all senior executives in the department except personnel and almost reshuffle CARIAD's board of directors, and appointed Peter Bosch, former Bentley production director, to succeed Dirk Hilgenberg as CARIAD CEO of Volkswagen software company, and was in charge of finance, procurement and IT.
According to data, the new successor, Genot Dolner (Gernot Dollner), is a veteran of Volkswagen Group, who worked with Obom for 30 years. Since joining Volkswagen as a doctoral student in 1993, Dolner has been promoted within the Volkswagen Group, including his first position as a systems analyst at Volkswagen, then to head of product development at Porsche in 1998, project manager at Porsche 918 Spyder in 2009 and 2010, and lead the division to launch the Porsche Panamera series and become head of the Panamera series from 2011 to 2018. Starting from 2021, Dorner returned to the Volkswagen brand as head of product strategy for the Volkswagen Group and reported directly to Herbert Deiss, then chief executive of the Volkswagen Group.
As for Audi's current CEO Marcus Dussmann (Markus Duesmann), as Audi's global trader, he also has a good educational background and work resume. Data show that Dussman, 54 years old, powertrain research and development engineer background, has served in Mercedes-Benz and BMW as an engine design engineer and global director, purchasing director.
Prior to joining Audi, Dussmann served as global director and purchasing director of BMW Group, responsible for global procurement. In June 2018, Volkswagen Group terminated its contract with Audi CEO Steed after he was arrested for trying to conceal evidence related to a diesel emissions investigation. Volkswagen began looking for a suitable candidate for the Audi CEO position. At that time, Dusman's engineering research and development background was popular with Volkswagen, so his predecessor, CEO Herbert Diess, personally poached Dussman from BMW, and Audi even waited a year because of the competition agreement.
Audi CEO Marcus Dussmann
In the official personnel change statement, Audi Supervisory Board Chairman Manfred D ö ss spoke highly of the planning and promotion made during Dusiman's tenure, including Audi's electrified transformation strategy. It is important to note that Dussman has been Audi CEO for just over three years since he took office, but it is widely believed that Dussman's departure is expected and has been a sign before. According to a source close to the Volkswagen Group, VW's top executives are not satisfied with Audi's business performance, believing that Audi not only lags behind competitors such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but also fails to realize its real potential. as a result, Dussman was replaced.
A few days ago, Oliver Blume, CEO of Volkswagen, admitted that the Audi brand is lagging behind its competitors, especially in electric cars, and promised to revive Audi's highlight moment in the future. "the Audi brand has great potential, but it hasn't been shown in recent years," Oliver Blume said. We did not defend its lead over its main competitors and we had to postpone the planning of exciting electric cars because of software problems. And specifically mentioned the Chinese market: "the group's business is highly dependent on China, but at present the pure electric vehicle product line is not competitive in the Chinese market."
According to the data, Audi's cumulative global sales fell 3.9 per cent year-on-year to 1.614 million vehicles in 2022, of which sales in China fell 8.4 per cent to 643000 vehicles, trailing both Mercedes-Benz and BMW in terms of global sales and sales in China. For comparison, Mercedes-Benz and BMW sold 2.044 million and 2.101 million vehicles respectively worldwide, compared with 791900 and 751700 vehicles in China. Before that, Audi sold 579000 vehicles in China in 2014, the first of the three BBA camps to reach annual sales of 500000 vehicles, but since then Audi began to go downhill and was overtaken by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Mercedes-Benz surpassed Audi with 611000 vehicles in 2017 and BMW overtook Audi and Mercedes-Benz with 777000 vehicles in 2020.
At present, fuel vehicles have reached their peak, and new energy vehicles have gradually become an important product in the layout of traditional automakers. In March, Audi China announced that its new models for the global market would be fully switched to pure electric cars from 2026, and that production of internal combustion engine models would be phased out by 2033.
It should be noted that, compared with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi electric products in the market consumption attraction is very limited. According to the data, Audi sold 118200 electric vehicles worldwide in 2022, up 44.3 percent from a year earlier, while Mercedes-Benz pure electric passenger cars sold 117800, up 124 percent from the same period last year. BMW's pure electric model sales reached 215800, up 107.7 percent from the same period last year. Subdivided into the Chinese market, Audi's delivery volume of pure electric vehicles in China increased by only 9.8%, which is a far cry from the mainstream independent brands and new car-building forces in the domestic car market.
Since the beginning of 2023, the gap between Audi and Mercedes-Benz and BMW has widened further. In the first quarter, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold 195000 and 191000 vehicles respectively in China, while Audi sold only 136000 vehicles, down 15.6 per cent from the same period last year. In terms of electrification, the Audi brand is also inferior to its competitors. According to the official website, Audi currently sells electric car products in the Chinese market, including Q4 e-tron, e-tron, Q2L e-tron, Q5 e-tron and other models, with a price range of 200000-500000 yuan, but the model sales performance is very mediocre. Retail data show that from January to May 2023, cumulative sales of Q4 e-tron, Q5 e-tron, A6L plug-in hybrid, Q2L e-tron and e-tron were 6631, 1501, 1397, 70 and 170 respectively.
There is no doubt that Audi's new global CEO will face the important task of "strengthening China's market position and accelerating Audi's electric transformation". Peter Mosch, vice chairman of Audi's supervisory board and chairman of the Federation of Trade unions, stressed: "under the management structure of Volkswagen Group, it is very important to shape Audi into an independent brand with innovative autonomy."
According to the plan, Audi will gradually launch 20 new models, including 10 electric cars, by the end of 2025, and Audi will have one pure tram in each market segment in 2027. It is understood that the previously postponed Q6 e-tron will be released at the end of this year. In addition, Audi and FAW joint venture Audi FAW New Energy will also be officially put into production next year. The first model is the A6 e-tron based on the PPE platform. As for Audi's new CEO, it will take more time to see whether Audi will have a different picture at that time.
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