General Motors appointed VW’s Karl-Thomas Neumann as president of GM Europe and CEO of Opel, the carmaker’s struggling European unit.
The appointment will take effect March 1, the company announced on Thursday. Neumann will have to deal with Opel’s heavy losses, as well as its weak brand image and inability to utilize GM’s substantial scale advantages.
Opel is without a CEO since June, when Karl-Friedrich Stracke was forced to resign. Strategy chief Tomas Sedran has been acting head of the company since. Neumann, once regarded as a leading candidate to succeed Martin Winterkorn as VW CEO, was replaced as head of the group’s China operations in June, despite no signs of troubles.
For Neumann, it is the second time he is leaving VW, after a brief stint as Continental AG CEO in 2008. He was ousted a year later after a dispute with the auto parts manufacturer’s owner, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler.
“I am excited to lead a company with such a rich German heritage and strong product portfolio. I’m aware that this will be a challenging job, but I’m convinced that together with my leadership team and employees, we will turn around the company,” Neumann said in a statement.
Neumann will be the third VW executive to join Opel’s board recently after VW of America’s Michael Lohscheller took responsibility for finances and Skoda’s China boss, Alfred Rieck, landed sales boss at Opel.