Manufacturing News

Volkswagen Group names new China board member

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn replaced three Audi board members and added a board level post for VW Group in China as part of a shake-up of top management.

Jochem Heizmann will move to a newly created management board post with responsibility for China. Heizmann is currently VW's chief of commercial vehicles.

Current China chief Karl-Thomas Neumann was passed over for the board post. Neumann's future with VW is unclear.

In other management moves, VW brand marketing chief Luca De Meo will lead Audi's sales, taking over for Peter Schwarzenbauer. The changes take effect September 1.

"We are now further intensifying knowledge transfer and management links within the group," Winterkorn said at a press conference in Stuttgart on Saturday to explain the changes. "All changes are internal. It is important to have people in leadership positions who know the company."

Big investment
The China board post reflects the increasing important of the automaker's biggest market. VW's Chinese joint ventures plan to invest 14 billion euros (111 billion yuan) in the country through 2016 to expand production.

VW will open a new assembly plant in western China as it pushes expansion beyond the country's bustling coast.

Heizmann, 60, the new China board member, is a production expect and a close aide of Winterkorn. He spent nearly five years working at Audi alongside Winterkorn who was then the unit's CEO, before serving as VW group production chief from 2007 to 2010.

Winterkorn said on Saturday that he's seeking a new role at VW for Neumann, a former CEO of supplier Continental. Neumann, 51, has led VW's China operations since September 2010.

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