January 23, 2022

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Diess To Stay On As Volkswagen CEO, Brandstaeter Gets Larger Role

It took nearly 10 weeks of intense negotiations, but the dust-up over Herbert Diess’ remarks that up to 30,000 production jobs could be lost as the company transitions to building battery-electric cars has been settled. An unnamed source tells Reuters,“It is going in the direction that the dispute will be settled and Diess will remain CEO,” adding that VW brand chief Ralf Brandstaetter is slated to join the management board, while Diess will focus on strategy.

Automotive News Europe adds that Brandstaetter will take over responsibility for the mass market brand group that includes Volkswagen, Skoda, and SEAT. Up until this point, Diess was in charge of Skoda and SEAT while Brandstaetter was head of the Volkswagen brand. The German press is reporting that the powerful Porsche and Piech families backed Diess. Together, they control 53% of Volkswagen. It is understood that the works council, which represents workers at the company and has several seats on the supervisory board, wanted to force Diess out and perhaps replace him with disgraced former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Skoda To Offer Sedan & Estate Electric Cars

So far, Volkswagen has concentrated on electric SUVs — the ID.4, ID.5, and ID.6, to be precise, as well as the ID.3 5-door hatchback. It is also about to start accepting orders for the highly anticipated ID. Buzz, which will attempt to recreate the magic of the original Volkswagen Microbus that became the symbol of the Woodstock generation. But some of you may remember a concept car called the ID. Space Vizzion that appeared at the Los Angeles auto show in 2019.

Americans wouldn’t know a Skoda from a Tatra or a Humber Super Snipe, but the brand is very popular in Europe, especially the Octavia, which is what some would call an estate wagon, shooting brake, or station wagon. (Older Americans who lived near the shore often referred to them as beach wagons.) The Octavia outsells any of Skoda’s SUV models by a wide margin, a fact that has sales and marketing boss Martin Jahn telling Autocar that Skoda doesn’t plan to become exclusively an SUV manufacturer.

“We’re committed to the needs of our customers,” he says. “In the future, we will always try to find shapes and body styles that our customers are expecting. I think that we will continue with the range of cars of Octavia and Superb. We still see a need for these cars, so they will continue for some time. We will be looking at bringing a car similar to Octavia, a car with a similar purpose, for people who are a bit more conservative, who don’t want an SUV, or for company fleets who don’t want to have SUVs but want different body shapes.”

Skoda could offer its own version of Volkswagen’s upcoming Aero-B electric sedan, which is essentially an EV equivalent of the Passat. That car is due in 2023 and has been spotted in near production-ready form recently. “The Combi [estate] shape was very successful for Skoda, and this shape defines Skoda in a way,” explains Jahn. “This is the way we will be looking at new electric cars. Similar to today, it will be predominantly SUV but there will be other shapes.”

That’s welcome news for customers who aren’t excited by the macho qualities that SUVs offer. Many people have fond memories of the wagons they owned years ago. It’s nice to see Skoda intends to carry on that tradition.


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