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Volkswagen this week sought to reposition itself for growth in a tougher world market with a top-to-bottom shakeup of management of its 10 car and truck brands.
The German group, which aims to overtake Toyota as the industry’s top-selling carmaker by 2018, assigned a new head for its trucks division and replaced three senior executives at Audi, its premium car brand.
Leif Östling, head of Scania, will from September 1 head VW’s commercial vehicles division, overseeing the integration of the Swedish brand with MAN and VW’s own truck brand. VW this week underscored its intention to consolidate the three truckmakers when it increased its voting rights in MAN from 73.76 per cent to 75.03 per cent, enough to ask shareholders to give it full control over the Munich group.
At Audi, VW named new heads of technical development, sales and purchasing in an effort to give the brand new momentum as it seeks to overtake BMW as the world’s top-selling premium car marque.
The group also created a new board-level function for China, its biggest overseas market. Jochem Heizmann, formerly head of VW’s trucks division, will take responsibility for a country that generated €2.6bn of the group’s operating profit and 2.3m of its unit sales last year.
VW also named a new CEO at its UK luxury limousine brand Bentley, and a new technical boss for its Czech bargain brand Skoda. The reshuffle renewed speculation over who will succeed Martin Winterkorn as VW’s chief executive in 2016.