Porsche Blume driver replaced head of Volkswagen Diess | Free press

Herbert Diess resigns from Volkswagen management. What does this mean for the course of the largest German company?


After all, that was probably a problem, one argument too many. It is said that Herbert Diess has almost been fired twice as CEO of VW. The surprising news came Friday night: the busy CEO, often criticized for his erratic behavior and roughness, leaves. On September 1, he will be replaced by Porsche boss Oliver Blume.

A short message after the inspectors’ meeting sealed the end of the Diess era – almost exactly seven years after he moved from BMW to Lower Saxony.

Everything indicated that it could happen. But in the end the measure seemed full – and Diess couldn’t go any further. This is suggested by voices from corporate circles that closely follow developments. Blume was already in reserve as Crown Prince. He is considered a very gifted manager and is usually a man of a calm tone – both in communication and in planning. In addition to his role at the top of the group, Blume should remain the head of Porsche and receive assistance from VW CFO Arno Antlitz in his day-to-day operations in Wolfsburg.

In addition to technical tasks, the staff could also mark a change in management style. This is highly appreciated in the industry. Without it – almost everyone agrees – VW would not be where the largest European car manufacturer is today with its electric models. However, recently there have been problems, especially with the slow development of proprietary software, which is again becoming much more expensive.

According to car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, Blume will also adapt the software department. The shift in the industry to software-oriented cars is “a huge challenge” for classic suppliers like VW, the professor said. “This is also evident in the replacement of VW boss (Herbert) Diess. Car makers are becoming tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft – or they’re becoming addicted to heavyweight software. ”

conflicts with staff

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil, who represents the state as the second most important owner on the supervisory board, paid tribute to Diess. It gave impetus to important new projects. Weil said of Blume: “I am confident that he will lead the group with prudence and prudence in a team with the management, in good cooperation with the works council and with great respect for the employees.”

Appreciation of employees should get some people to sit down and pay attention. Diess often found this quite difficult – at least from the perspective of the works council and the many colleagues on the assembly line. It started at the latest when many felt lonely with the bumpy start of the entry-level Golf 8 and ID models. Workers’ representatives criticized the lack of a crisis strategy and the steady increase in production pressures. IG Metall expressed its distrust in an open letter to Diess.

Trade union leader Jörg Hofmann, like Weil and works council chairwoman Daniel Cavallo during the presidency, stressed that VW “must do justice not only to its role as a technological favorite, but also to its role as a social benchmark.” Cavallo said the fuss was difficult. VW has to come out stronger from this. “But it is also our aim that despite great challenges, occupational safety and profitability remain equal corporate goals.”

On the other hand, some people have rumored Diess could do it himself. He reportedly felt slowed by the employee bank on the supervisory board when it comes to group restructuring, centralized human resources and efficiency proposals.

allegations against board members

The scandal occurred in the summer of 2020, when Diess accused supervisory board members of “crimes” and “lack of integrity” of punching inside information. It was not well received at the time that he demanded additional support by extending his contract early. Diess stated that one of his goals was to “break down old, dried-up structures and make the company more agile and modern”. Cavallo initially supported the extension of the contract for a further four years.

Another knock came last fall, when Diess reportedly asked for ideas for further savings proposals via email without consulting with his superiors in the circle of management. Up to 30,000 potentially excess jobs were at stake in the medium term.

The poor capacity utilization of many plants due to the chip crisis and the resulting short workload caused great dissatisfaction. Cavallo has accused the Diess of a weak sourcing concept – instead, he deals with PR meetings and poses with Tesla boss Elon Musk.

On the other hand, many investors found Diess’ shift towards e-mobility and software bolder than almost any other company. His style was more admired than criticized here.

Recently, nervousness has spread to many areas due to a backlog of software development. At a meeting two weeks ago, the inspectors discussed the discrepancies in the expansion of Cariad’s IT department. This should design a uniform program and electronic platform for all future models. Following opposition, especially from the subsidiaries Audi and Porsche, development initially continued in parallel. Diess recently explained to employees: “Project-by-project comfort is part of that. We still have to learn the software culture. “

A few weeks ago, the VW boss jovially explained the various plans he had with the company. However, unlike last year’s summer break, there was no movie this time where he sailed across the Mittelland Canal with an electric surfboard. (dpa)

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