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VW Canada boss to lead Australia

Ready: John White steps up to take the reins at Volkswagen Group Australia.

New chief incoming for Volkswagen Group Australia as Koeckler prepares for new role

Volkswagen logo14 Feb 2013

VOLKSWAGEN AG has announced that the head of its Canadian operations, John White, will transfer to Australia to replace current Volkswagen Group Australia managing director, Anke Koeckler, effective April 1.

The company said in a statement that Ms Koeckler, 45, will take study leave to prepare for a new role in 2014, while Mr White, 57, comes to the position after presiding over similar growth for the Volkswagen brand in the Canadian market.

Through a network of almost 140 dealers, Volkswagen achieved a record 59,132 sales in Canada last year, more than double the growth of the country’s industry as a whole, which rose to 1.676 million vehicles last year – a total that was second only to the 1.703 million the Canadian car sector posted in 2002.

Under Ms Koeckler, who has been at the helm of VGA since August 2009, Volkswagen has become one of the fastest-growing mainstream vehicle brands in Australia, increasing its annual sales tally from 30,000 in 2009 to just shy of 55,000 units (up 22.6 per cent on 2011) in last year’s record 1.112-million market.

 center imageOutgoing Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler.

During this time, Ms Koeckler has overseen considerable expansion of the Australian subsidiary’s dealer network and company staff, which led to the opening of a $40-million-plus purpose-built national head office at Chullora, in Sydney’s west, at the end of 2011.

As GoAuto has reported, Ms Koeckler has also been proactive in tackling issues that have reflected poorly on the company, such as customer service.

As president and CEO of Volkswagen Group Canada, Mr White is responsible for Volkswagen and Audi. Like Volkswagen in Canada, Audi has also posted successive sales increases over the past five years, including an all-time record of more than 20,000 sales in 2012.

In Australia, the Skoda and Bentley brands come under the VGA umbrella but Audi is handled by an independent distributor.

Mr White’s replacement in Canada will be Maria Stenstroem, who is currently head of Volkswagen passenger car sales for the Indian and Far East markets, based at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

“I am excited about my upcoming move to our growing Australian operation,” Mr White said.

“Our continued success in Canada is the result of the strength of our brands, coupled with a very dedicated dealer body, and I’m confident that under Maria Stenstroem’s leadership the brands will continue their solid growth.”

Mr White joined Volkswagen 20 years ago and has led Volkswagen Group Canada since 2008. Prior to that he was executive vice-president of Volkswagen Canada from 2004 to 2007, and director of sales operations at Volkswagen of America from 2000-2003, based in Michigan.

In the late 1990s, he was the Canadian region manager for Volkswagen Credit Canada, having been promoted from his previous role as zone manager for Volkswagen Canada.

Prior to VW, Mr White worked for six years as regional manager (Eastern Canada) for global fleet leasing and management firm PHH Vehicle Management Services. He began his career with General Motors in Canada, holding various positions over 10 years within the GMC truck division.

Volkswagen is yet to divulge the “new function” for Ms Koeckler, who has worked for Europe’s biggest auto company since 1996.

Over her career, she has held various senior sales positions, including director of sales for Germany’s Northern region and head of sales planning and promotion for the entire German market.

She also previously worked in market planning responsible for the Scandinavian region, and was also in charge of area management for Spain.

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