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Change of leadership at BMW, Volkswagen

New blood: 49-year-old Harald Krueger’s appointment as BMW’s new global CEO marks a generational change for the company amid fast-emerging new technologies.

BMW’s Krueger to become car industry’s youngest CEO as Diess named head of VW cars

11 Dec 2014

GERMAN automotive powerhouses BMW and Volkswagen have announced significant changes to their global leadership teams, with Harald Krueger named as the incoming chief executive of BMW as the Munich luxury brand’s development chief Herbert Diess moves to VW to head up its passenger car brand worldwide.

Set to become the youngest CEO of a major car company, Mr Krueger, 49, will replace Norbert Reithofer, 58, who will step down next May and is now slated to succeed Joachim Milberg as chairman.

Dr Diess, 56, will take over from Martin Winterkorn as chairman of the Volkswagen passenger brand, effective October 1 next year, although Prof Winterkorn, 67, will remain chief executive of the broader VW Group, which also includes Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

Mr Krueger’s rise at BMW, who joined the company in 1992 and is currently serving as head of production for the group, is billed as a “generational change” that ensures “continuity and strategic vision”.

He has been a member of the board since 2008 and in 2012 took over responsibility for Mini, Motorrad, Rolls-Royce and aftersales.

“The automotive industry is undergoing a fundamental shift,” said Prof Milberg, 71, who will take on a “leading role” connected with the BMW Group’s global CSR activities and charitable foundations.

“Those who want to play an active role in shaping tomorrow’s mobility need constantly to find viable solutions to future challenges.

“The BMW Group plans to maintain its leading role in the premium segment. To achieve this, we have to hand over responsibility to the next generation at an appropriate time.”

BMW Group deputy chairman Stefan Quandt described the moves as “the first steps for a generational change, which combines the need for continuity and experience with the creative energy of the younger generation”.

“We are convinced that this combination will be a decisive factor for the future success of the BMW Group – in the interests of customers, employees and shareholders alike,” he said.

Dr Reithofer joined BMW in 1987 and has been a member of the board of management since March 2000. He was also previously responsible for production, rising to chief executive in 2006.

At Volkswagen, Dr Diess brings considerable experience to the position, having worked for BMW since 1996 and holding responsibility for a number of key areas such as purchasing and supplier network and, since early 2012, research and development, which has included playing a key role in the launch of the company’s new electrified ‘i’ models.

He also previously worked for global automotive supplier Robert Bosch.

“With Herbert Diess we will be welcoming an outstanding personality and one of the most capable minds in the automotive industry to our company,” Dr Winterkorn said.

“At the same time, this step puts the executive management of both the group and the brand on an even broader footing.”

Mr Diess’ departure from BMW has prompted the promotion of Klaus Froehlich, 54, as development chief.

Mr Froehlich has worked for the Munich car-maker since 1987 and was most recently in charge of the small and mid-sized series product line.

When he takes the reins at BMW, Mr Krueger will be younger than fellow industry CEOs including General Motors’ Mary Barra, 52, and Ford Motor Company’s Mark Fields, 53.

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