Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess exits early after a turbulent tenure

Herbert Diess took over at Volkswagen four years ago when the German automaker was in crisis, under pressure to make dramatic changes in strategy and culture, and the former BMW executive offered a new vision.

Diess will leave Volkswagen on September 1, three years before his contract was supposed to end, with many of the goals he set as the German auto giant’s disruptor-in-chief unfinished and uncertain, Reuters reports.

Prominent among them, Diess’s effort to create a Germany-centered software business, CARIAD, within Volkswagen, and a promised stock market listing for the Porsche luxury brand designed to help fund VW’s electrification investments.

Diess was not like prior VW chief executives in either his approach to business or his personal style. In 2018, that made him appear to be just the executive to lead Volkswagen out of its Dieselgate scandal.

Diess was focused more on what investors wanted than pleasing Volkswagen’s labor unions. He believed in investing heavily in electric vehicles for the future. He cultivated a playful presence on social media, and he set electric vehicle leader Tesla Inc as Volkswagen’s benchmark, not traditional rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp or General Motors Co.

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