Volkswagen is plunging into the unknown following the surprise resignation of its CEO

This time it’s the right one… Herbert Diess has resigned as chairman of the board of the Volkswagen Group. He will be replaced by Oliver Blume, current head of Porsche. He will take up his duties from 1 September, while retaining his responsibilities at the helm of the luxury brand.

huge surprise

Herbert Diess’s resignation is a huge surprise, as it was neither expected nor announced in the medium term. The man at the helm of the ten-brand German juggernaut, the world number one in the automotive industry, took the reins of the group in 2018. His appointment was to end the crisis that followed the incredible rigged engine scandal, the final cost of which exceeded $25 billion in various compensation or fines. The former head of the Volkswagen brand then set about rebuilding the strategic roadmap for a group that never managed to shake off its pro-internal combustion engine culture.

A letter of resignation to silence a mutiny

In 2020, he had to face an internal mutiny, consisting of an atypical problem between the barons of the engineers and unionists. In the autumn, he then put his resignation at the board’s table, thus forcing him to decide on his massive transformation plan, which must then overturn the table to make Volkswagen the world champion in electromobility. . Billions would then be invested in new technologies, but also in charging infrastructure or in software mastery with more than 11,000 IT engineers to be recruited.

Therefore, Volkswagen adopts Tesla’s revolutionary model in the electric car

The board hesitates… But ends up giving him discharge. Herbert Diess then takes his pilgrim staff to try to rally the employees to his cause. The press will report on heated exchanges with staff representatives about the implications of its transformation plan. But Herbert Diess is convinced that, despite its industrial and technological power, Volkswagen has accumulated delays and weaknesses against Tesla, whose sales could equal Audi’s in less than two years. In connection, software or electrification, the German group is no longer at the forefront, he diagnoses.

“I am worried about Wolfsburg (world headquarters of the group, where the largest factory is also located, ed. note)“, he declared in front of the employees.”I want your children and grandchildren to still have a job with us in Wolfsburg in 2030” had launched Herbert Diess to justify the scale and audacity of his “revolution”.

Volkswagen: how the CEO is preparing minds for his “revolution”

In the new automotive world, unprecedented competition awaits us“, he had also expressed before confessing after testing Chinese cars: “”I have to admit they really aren’t bad“.

A grateful group

In the press release formalizing Herbert Diess’ departure, the board salutes the outgoing chairman’s work.

“Mr. Diess has impressively demonstrated the speed and consistency with which he has been able to drive large-scale transformation processes. He has not only guided the company through extremely turbulent waters, but he has also implemented a fundamentally new strategy,” said Hans Dieter Pötsch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

The mysterious reasons for leaving

Impossible to know the real reasons for Herbert Diess’ departure. Its struggle in too brutal a transformation or a deep divergence in the board at a time when the energy crisis is shaking the economic equation of the electric car?

What is certain is that after Martin Winterkorn’s fall in 2015 after Dieselgate, Matthias Müller’s fall in 2018, Herbert Diess is part of this tradition of catastrophic departures for the heads of one of the largest industrial groups in the world with almost 600,000 employees.

“There will be a car spring, but it will be rock and roll” (Herbert Diess)