Volkswagen names new head of its North American region

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Volkswagen AG, still reeling from an emissions cheating scandal, named Hinrich J. Woebcken as head of its North American region, the German automaker announced Tuesday.

The 55-year-old Woebcken, who served at BMW AG and then as CEO of German-based braking system supplier Knorr Bremse AG, will assume responsibility for all the activities of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand in North America starting April 1. He will also become chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Volkswagen Mexico and Volkswagen Group Canada.

Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, will remain in that position.

“The USA is and will remain a key core market for the Volkswagen brand,” VW brand CEO, Herbert Diess, said in a statement. “That is why the North American Region must be steered in the interest of our customers and dealers there. With his international experience Mr. Woebcken will make an important contribution to the brand’s positive development in the region.”

The automaker is attempting to reorganize its operations after news broke last year that it lied on emissions tests for roughly 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide. New CEO Matthias Muller apologized to U.S. media for the first time in Detroit last week and said VW was having productive discussions with the EPA on implementing fixes to the affected cars, but a few days later the agency rejected VW’s initial plan.

VW’s global sales fell 2 percent last year, although they rose 1.2 percent in the U.S.

Sales fell to 9.931 million vehicles from 10.14 million the year before. The cheating scandal became known only in late September, so it likely only affected sales in the last months of 2015.

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