The Volkswagen Group, the second largest automaker in the world and the biggest in Europe has had a troubled few months from the start of the year – with sales slowing down in critical regions around the world and a leadership crisis.
VW AG has been battling slowing growth at its main namesake brand, which accounts for around 60 percent of sales and profit for the group, but has also seen troubling signs at other brands – especially Audi in China, the world’s largest auto market. There, the German group counts on the rising sales to pose a threat to the world’s largest car making group, Japan’s Toyota. The Japanese are thriving instead in the United States, where the Volkswagen core brand has been chronically plagued by sales issues. Last month on top of all the woes added the leadership crisis triggered by Ferdinand Piech, the long-running chairman of the group and clan patron. He tried to oust chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn, but his bid was rebuffed by the supporters of the latter, which included family members that were usually loyal to Piech.
Now, Martin Winterkorn, which is not only the chief executive officer of the entire group, but also the chairman of Audi Ag, the world’s second largest luxury automaker, has hinted the group would still need “a bit of time” to replace Ferdinand Piech and his wife on the premium brand’s supervisory board. Piech and his wife also left their positions on the board of Audi after the April 25 clash with the rest of the management which ended his group chairman position as well.