Volkswagen continues to shuffle executives as it looks for a way out of the ongoing diesel scandal. The company faces mounting pressure from regulators and outraged customers to find a solution, but still hasn’t announced a recall of its U.S. diesel cars.
What it did do is appoint Hinrich J. Woebcken head of the Volkswagen brand in North America. Woebcken will be responsible for all activities related to the Volkswagen brand (not the other car brands controlled by the VW Group) in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. VW says his appointment is an important part of an ongoing effort to streamline corporate infrastructure.
The move also makes Woebcken chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Volkswagen Mexico, and Volkswagen Group of Canada. However, current VW Group of America CEO Michael Horn will retain his post.
The 55-year-old Woebcken comes to Volkswagen from Knorr-Bremse, a German company primarily known for supplying braking systems for commercial vehicles. An industrial engineer by training, his experience is primarily in purchasing and supply chains. Previous automotive experience includes a decade-long stint at BMW beginning in 2004.
The diesel scandal has made it a particularly bad time to be a Volkswagen Group executive. The shakeup began when VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down, and was replaced by Porsche CEO Matthias Muller. R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg and head of design Walter de Silva subsequently stepped down as well, and were replaced by Ulrich Eichhorn and Michael Mauer, respectively.
Meanwhile, it’s still unclear when Volkswagen will begin recalling the defective diesel cars, including 482,000 TDI models with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines, and an additional 85,000 with 3.0-liter V6 engines. The California Air Resources Board recently rejected a proposed fix for the 2.0-liter cars, and hasn’t weighed in on a proposal concocted by Porsche and Audi for the 3.0-liter models.