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More changes at the top of VW in the wake of emissions scandal
By Andrew English, The Telegraph • 21/12/2015
Volkswagen reorganises management to reduce aggressive culture and recalls a familiar face to run research and development
Volkswagen has announced yet more streamlining of its management board in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal. Most notable is the rehiring of Ulrich Eichhorn from the German industry body, the VDA, to replace Ulrich Hackenberg as board member responsible for research and development.
The move will halve the number of managers reporting to chief executive Matthias Müller, who said: "Thesestructural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency."
They are also expected to reduce the highly competitive and aggressive culture in the boardroom which is widely linked to the emissions scandal.
Other changes include Porsche design boss Michael Mauer taking over the post of chief of VW Group design from Walter De Silva. Mauer, formerly worked at Mercedes and was recruited by Porsche in 2004 after a brief period with General Motors and Saab. Volkswagen sales will now be the responsibility of Fred Kappler, Wolfram Thomas takes over as head of VW Group production and Ralf-Gerhard Willner will take charge of the modular engineering.
Eichhorn (55), a doctorate of engineering from Darmstadt University, was one of the talented team at Ford which developed the first Focus model. He was poached by Volkswagen in 2000 to become its director of research, before taking up the post of Bentley's chief engineer in 2003 and leaving the company for the VDA in 2013.
During his previous spell at VW, Eichhorn helped develop the 282mpg 1-litre car
He is widely regarded as one of the industry's great talents, with a profound understanding of branding and marketing as well as mechanical engineering. While at VW he helped develop the 282mpg 1-litre car and the artificial bio-fuel known as "sun fuel".
The management changes come after an annoucement this week that the European anti-fraud department is to investigate what are estimated to be up to £6.9 billion of European loans made to VW through the European Investment Bank to develop cleaner engines.