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To Recover from Past Errors, New Audi CEO has a Big Task Ahead

After years of mistakes left Volkswagen’s cash cow with a stagnant model portfolio and falling behind in the transition to electric vehicles, the premium brand Audi’s new head is faced with a number of urgent concerns that must be resolved.

Gernot Dollner, a 54-year-old VW veteran who published his dissertation on expediting product development, will not have much time to waste when he assumes leadership in September in order to ensure the early arrival of significant new battery-powered vehicles. The stakes are high because market share in China is declining and Tesla outsold Audi in the first quarter.

When a string of errors stymied Audi’s expansion, it was on the verge of overtaking Mercedes-Benz and BMW. In the largest market for Audi and VW, a bitter battle with Chinese dealers six years ago reduced sales. Internal squabbles resulted in the resignation of key engineering chiefs, which halted the development of new vehicles, and the brand failed to recover from the diesel-emissions disaster. Recently, issues with software development turned off Chinese clients and delayed the release of a crucial new model.

According to Matthias Schmidt, an automotive analyst headquartered close to Hamburg, “Audi’s product lineup was heavily geared toward diesel for years.” “The current models are from a different generation and are insufficient for a world moving toward electric mobility,” said one expert.

VW When he announced steps to improve performance throughout the business, Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume, who has been in charge of Europe’s largest automaker for less than a year, singled out Audi for falling short of its potential. Volkswagen officially stated on Thursday that Döllner would succeed Markus Duesmann, 54, as the brand’s CEO, confirming a previous Bloomberg report.

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