German Newspaper States Ralf Brandstaetter Will Lead the VW Group in China

Until everything is official, it seems the leadership struggle at the Volkswagen group will keep on surprising us. The last we had heard was that Ralf Brandstätter would replace Herbert Diess as the mass-market brand group boss. Now, Brandstätter may be heading to China.
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That’s what the German newspaper Handelsblatt disclosed on December 7. With a good record of getting these leadership movements at the Volkswagen group, the news is just waiting for an official confirmation from the company. However, it all makes a lot of sense.

Brandstätter has worked for the Volkswagen group for decades and is deemed a very competent executive. The German carmaker needs someone to help its Chinese operations get back on track there. After all, the semiconductor crisis threatened the leadership position it enjoys in the largest car market in the world. Apart from that, Volkswagen is not selling as many EVs to Chinese customers as it wanted.

Due to the international health crisis, Diess could not travel to China as often as he used to do. Having a board member living there would be a way to speed up decisions and get operations where they should be. Volkswagen has a market share of around 20% in the Chinese market.

Brandstätter would have been asked to move to China and become a board member for China, which confirms that he would join the board (just not the way we thought that would happen). He would have already accepted the task and would soon move to Beijing to start taking care of business.

In a way, that may give Herbert Diess more freedom to focus on the group’s strategy. That will also benefit Brandstätter: if he can fix Volkswagen’s Chinese operations, he’ll become a solid contender to replace Diess when his contract ends. We just suspect this is not the last thing we will hear about Volkswagen’s management shifts until 2022, at least until everything is official. We still need to know who will guide the mass-market brand group.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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