Volkswagen appoints Herbert Diess as CEO, creates new divisions

VW recalls 17000 vehicles due to fire risk

Chief Executive Matthias Mueller is set to be replaced by VW brand boss Herbert Diess after failing to refocus the group's portfolio of auto brands, ranging from Skoda to Lamborghini.

VOLKSWAGEN'S board abruptly ended the tenure of chief executive officer Matthias Mueller, a caretaker who revived the carmaker after its worst crisis on record, turning instead to a leader who can implement deeper changes, people familiar with the matter said.

On Thursday, the carmaker said it planned to create six new business areas and a special portfolio for China, its largest market, and split its brands into three new vehicle groups with categories for value, premium and super-premium nameplates.

Volkswagen, which has a history of rocky management handovers, has chose to replace Matthias Mueller, 64, with the 59-year-old Diess, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified speaking ahead of an official announcement.

Mueller, who formerly headed Porsche, took over as CEO unexpectedly in September 2015 when Martin Winterkorn resigned over the company's scandal over cars rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

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Mr Diess is a respected hands-on manager with a strong grasp of technology and the ability to find efficiencies.

And the CEO of subsidiary Porsche, Oliver Blume, will join the VW board. Today the company issued a statement thanking Müller for his time during what it referred to as "the greatest challenge in its history".

That plan comes as rivals, including Fiat Chrysler and Daimler, consider spin-offs or legally separate divisions to boost their share prices and raise cash to fund development of electric and self-driving cars.

With about 642,000 employees, VW is one of the world's largest companies in every respect.

Non-compliant Volkswagens dirtied Minnesota's air so much that the state is getting $47 million to clean up old diesel engines, purchase electric buses and increase its network of electric charging stations.

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"It's right for VW to look in a new direction", judged analyst Juergen Pieper of Metzler bank. The volume group will consist of Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat.

This time past year, the company was hit with a $2.8 billion penalty in the US, bringing its costs for the scandal up to around $30 billion, according to NBC.

Dieselgate has so far cost VW more than 25 billion euros ($31 billion) in buybacks, fines and compensation, and the carmaker remains mired in legal woes at home and overseas.

Audi and Volkswagen are the two brands to have suffered the most through the emissions difficulties, and the fact that Diess has managed to emerge with a strengthened reputation is indeed impressive.

Just last month, Diess said: "We need diesel, diesel has a future".

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