Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess will step down from the board of the German auto giant to be replaced by the boss of sports car brand Porsche, the group said Friday.
Diess’s departure from the top of the world’s second-largest automaker was agreed “by mutual consent” and would take effect on September 1, Volkswagen said in a statement.
After four years as CEO, Diess will be replaced by Oliver Blume, the current boss of the Porsche sports cars, part of the Volkswagen family of 12 brands that also includes Skoda and Audi.
The group, which is in the middle of overhauling its business to focus on electric vehicles, decided the move at a meeting of the supervisory board on Friday.
Diess had “played a key role” in the transformation of the group, steered the company through “extremely turbulent waters” and “implemented a fundamentally new strategy”, said supervisory board chairman, Hans Dieter Poetsch.
The outgoing CEO often ruffled feathers with his abrasive style and controversial statements.
In 2019, he was made to apologise for making a play on words with a Nazi slogan at a company meeting.
Diess came under pressure internally after he suggested last October that up to 30,000 jobs could be at risk at Volkswagen in Germany if it could not cut costs in its transition to battery-powered models.
An open admirer of Elon Musk, the CEO of American electric vehicles pioneer Tesla, Diess said last year the storied German carmaker would need a “revolution” to take on its US rival.
“Team spirit, fairness and passion are decisive for success,” the incoming CEO Oliver Blume said in a statement on Friday.