Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn dismissed concerns that a recent departure of executives leaves Europe’s largest automaker without viable candidates to succeed him as CEO.
“There are enough young people up and coming,” Winterkorn, 66, said at a Volkswagen event late yesterday in Frankfurt. The succession issue is “of course” being addressed internally, he said.
Karl-Thomas Neumann, head of the China operations; Audi development chief Wolfgang Duerheimer; and Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer have all left within the last year.
Winterkorn is seen as the likely successor to Chairman Ferdinand Piech, 76, when he eventually decides to retire. The two are close confidantes and the masterminds behind VW’s global expansion and financial success in recent years.
VW denied a Sept. 6 report in German newspaper Handelsblatt saying Piech would resign within the next months due to health issues. The company said in a statement that Winterkorn and Piech will continue to serve in their current jobs “for a long time.”
Volkswagen is relying on the seventh generation of its top-selling Golf hatchback, introduced at the end of last year, to help drive deliveries to a record this year. Audi, the world’s second-biggest maker of luxury cars and VW’s main earnings contributor, is counting on the A3 sedan to boost profit by luring more American and Chinese buyers.
“It is looking good at the moment” for VW to reach the 9.5 million vehicle sales mark in 2013, Christian Klingler, VW sales chief, said at a press briefing today. Deliveries last year reached 9.35 million worldwide, up 12 percent.
Dozens of new models including the Porsche Macan compact sport-utility vehicle and the first SUV for the ultra-luxury Bentley marque are part of the company’s push to overtake General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s largest automaker by 2018.
VW also intends to streamline costs in the coming quarters by rolling out more parts-sharing technology among its brands.