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VW streamlines product management

Power shift: Models such as the e-Golf will fall under the newly formed BEV organisational group under changes announced by Volkswagen.

More product planning changes announced for Volkswagen Group

25 Jan 2016

THE Volkswagen Group diesel emissions scandal continues to have an impact, with the German automotive giant announces changes to its internal personnel structure.

In a statement released late last week, the company said it has “repositioned its organisation for vehicle development” to make clear the chain of responsibility for each project, changes which it also believes will increase the speed of vehicle development.

Volkswagen chairman of the board of management Herbert Diess said the company had to ensure that the corporate responsibility for each vehicle project is “clearly assigned”.

“We expect these changes to yield an acceleration boost in development. This step represents a core element of 'New Volkswagen', the new strategic direction of our brand,” he said.

Volkswagen Group said the new process will improve collaboration but also puts the responsibility for each model with one person rather than several in different divisions of the company.

“From the concept to the end of the life-cycle for any given model, the responsibility for technology, quality, cost and deadline compliance, and the responsibility for cost-effectiveness, now clearly lie in one hand for the first time,” the company said in a statement.

The small vehicles group, which includes the Up and the Polo as well small sedans and SUVs, will be overseen by Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert in charge, the former head of product management for the Volkswagen brand and the Group since 2010.

The compact vehicle group – also known as the Golf-class group according to VW – covers the hatchback, notchback sedans, wagons and SUVs and will be run by former group electrics and electronics purchasing manager Karlheinz Hell.

The mid- and full-size group includes the Passat, the Sharan people-mover and the larger SUVs – including the Touareg and a future mid-size SUV based on the CrossBlue concept that is currently only planned for left-hand-drive production.

This model group will be under the supervision of Dr Elmar-Marius Licharz, in charge of product controlling for the Volkswagen brand since 2010.

VW has also created a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) group which includes the e-Up and e-Golf, as well as future electric vehicles in the mould of the Budd-e concept car that made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

The BEV group is run by former BMW 'project i' executive and most recently Continental AG’s senior vice-president Automotive Systems and Technology, Christian Senger.

Volkswagen said the aforementioned groups will all be backed by a new Strategy and Products Division, which will have responsibility for product life-cycles and co-ordination of major product events among its tasks.

Dr Diess said the new structure was a core element for the change in culture at Volkswagen.

“This allows us to provide clear structures and responsibilities, which carve out more time for the workforce to focus on their core tasks,” he said.

“The new series organisation allows a robust product portfolio to be created that is fit for the future, because it strengthens cooperation across all functions hence increasing the profitability of the brand.”

The restructuring has little immediate impact on Volkswagen Group Australia's operation, with the company's general manager of communications Karl Gehling telling GoAuto that it will be a while before we see any more detail about the changes.

“We haven’t got a lot more detail on the changes as yet,” he said. “I don’t think it will change the way we work here, it might change some of the reporting lines here but we operate in brands here as it is, that won’t change.”

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