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Audi boss to take helm of business in China

By LI FUSHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-22 10:58
Markus Duesmann, CEO of Audi. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Volkswagen AG's premium arm, Audi, said on Friday that its CEO Markus Duesmann will assume direct responsibility for its business in China, underlining the importance of the world's largest market to the company.

"The mobility of the future is developing rapidly in China," said Duesmann, who has also been the carmaker's chairman of the board of management since April.

"I am looking forward to the task of further expanding our presence in our largest market and actively shaping the transformation process in the Chinese automotive industry together with Audi China and our Chinese partners," he said.

Until now, the board of management member for finance was responsible for Audi's business in China. Duesmann will become the first top executive of any premium carmaker to take charge of the China business.

Analysts said the move will improve Audi's China-related strategies and enable voices from the Chinese market to reach Ingolstadt, where Audi is headquartered, faster.

When Audi came to China in 1988, it was the first premium brand available in the country. Over the years it has accrued an understanding of local customers and had been the best-selling premium marque until recently.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen veteran Werner Eichhorn was appointed president of Audi China. One of the most important reasons why he was picked for the job is widely believed to be his work experience in the 2000s as the first head of FAW-Volkswagen's Audi sales division.

The division sells Audi vehicles imported and locally produced by FAW-Volkswagen in China. Eichhorn led it to high levels of success.

Duesmann's assumption of responsibility for the China business further shows Audi's ambition in the country. China accounted for 37.5 percent of the carmaker's global deliveries of 1.85 million in 2019.

Last week, Duesmann was also appointed to head Audi's technical development, another aspect that has a lot to do with the German carmaker's success during the auto industry's transformation.

He will be supported by a chief operating officer, who will coordinate the day-to-day business of the development engineers, and a chief transition architect who will organize the realignment of the technical development at Audi. His appointment came after Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, who was responsible for technical development, decided to leave the company at his own request.

Besides, Audi said on Friday that it will establish a separate division that will help improve the efficiency of its model series organization. Duessmann will head the division as well.

The model series organization, which was introduced in 2016 and is structured by vehicle model series, has overall responsibility for all Audi models.

"This realignment strengthens the vehicle-project business and the strategic importance of the model series. It will enable us to focus even more strongly on our products within the company," said Duesmann.

Duesmann began his career in 1992 as a design engineer for a V12 series-production engine at Mercedes-Benz. In 2007, he moved to BMW as head of Formula 1 powertrains and later the carmaker's board member responsible for procurement. He joined Volkswagen in 2019 and became a board member responsible for the group's research and development starting in April 2020.

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