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New managing director for Volkswagen Group Australia

Heading home: After a 10-year spell in the US, Michael Bartsch is heading back to Australia to take the Volkswagen reins as managing director.

Michael Bartsch returns to Australia to take top spot from John White at Volkswagen

4 Aug 2015

FORMER Porsche Cars Australia sales and marketing director Michael Bartsch is returning to Australia to replace John White as Volkswagen Group Australia’s new managing director.

Mr Bartsch, an Australian, was a prominent figure in the local automotive industry before migrating at the end of 2004 to the United States, where he served as Porsche Cars North America executive vice-president and COO and, most recently, Infiniti America vice-president.

The experienced global car industry executive was in the key position at Nissan’s luxury brand for just shy of 18 months before leaving the company in February this year “to pursue other interests”.

During his time at Infiniti, the brand struggled to build volume and market share despite a resurgence in US luxury car sales, and overseas reports at the time indicated that both Infiniti and parent Nissan were loading on the pressure with sizeable targets.

Just prior to joining Infiniti in August 2013, Mr Bartsch had planned to return to Australia directly from Porsche Cars North America, having accepted the role of managing director of Porsche Cars Australia, replacing Michael Winkler.

As GoAuto reported at the time, he subsequently elected to stay in the US for family reasons.

Mr Bartsch now returns to Australia during a boom time for Volkswagen, with the company’s local sales up 12.1 per cent year to date, driven by popular models such as the Golf small hatchback and wagon, Amarok one-tonne ute and the Polo light hatchback.

Prior to his stint in the US, Mr Bartsch headed up Porsche’s local sales and marketing interests after joining the brand through York Motors in Sydney in 1984. Over his 31-year career he has held positions with a variety of brands including Holden and Hyundai, and also had a previous tenure with Volkswagen in 1993.

The top spot at Volkswagen became vacant after Mr White stepped down to take early retirement, returning to his native Canada for family reasons. Mr Bartsch resumes the role in November 1 this year.

In a statement, Volkswagen praised the efforts of Mr White in his two years as MD with the company.

“During his time with Volkswagen Group Australia the company has achieved substantial growth and is on track for another record year,” the company said.

“Mr White and Mr Bartsch will commence a handover of responsibilities during October, with Mr White concluding his duties with Volkswagen Group Australia on October 30.”

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