Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. File picture: Michael Probst / AP Photo.
Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. File picture: Michael Probst / AP Photo.

Porsche family stands by Diess as VW tensions mount - report

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jun 10, 2020

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Hanover, Germany - Top management and shareholders rallied behind Volkswagen's chief executive on Tuesday after a tumultuous 24 hours triggered by the leak of remarks that he made, in which he appeared to accuse board members of acting with criminal intent.   

VW's supervisory board and its two major shareholding families - the Porsches and the Piechs - both accepted Herbert Diess' apology for his comments in a video conference in front of 3000 company managers.  

"Mr Diess apologised in every way, he addressed the entire supervisory board," said the Porsches and the Piechs, who are two of the most powerful families in the world of European carmaking.

They did, however, note that it was high time to address the issues that have dogged Diess in recent months.

"The company must now enter calmer waters," the families said.

On Monday, Volkswagen announced that Diess would no longer be in charge of the day-to-day running of the core VW passenger car division of the company. The VW brand would be managed by the firm's former chief operating officer, Ralf Brandstaetter, from July 1.

VW sales chief Stefan Sommer announced on Monday that he was stepping down at the end of this month after taking up his post in September 2018.

Brandstaetter appears set to continue the cost-cutting drive launched by Diess aimed at helping to pay for a 34-billion-euro (R640bn) investment in electric and autonomous cars.

Monday's shakeout in VW's management would allow "greater leeway" for Diess in steering the company and its brands - including Audi, Bentley, Skoda, Lamborghini and Porsche - at a time of upheaval in the motor industry, the VW statement said at the time.

However, it later emerged that Diess had accused certain members of the supervisory board of criminal offences and a lack of integrity.

A VW company spokesman said on Tuesday that it was not Diess' intention to accuse supervisory board members of criminal acts, adding that the statements had been made in the context of press reports drawing on confidential information.

Members of the supervisory board, which oversees the Wolfsburg-based company's direction and appoints its top officers, also accepted his apology, noting in a Tuesday statement that Diess had declared the statements "inappropriate and false."

Diess' troubled departure from the post of VW brand head is an unwelcome development for the firm, which has been working to put the 2015 diesel scandal behind it.  

Diess had also faced ongoing problems in the production of Volkswagen's new Golf 8, as well as rumours that he might step down early.

 dpa

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