Volkswagen replaces CEO Mueller, announces new structure

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Volkswagen replaces CEO Mueller, announces new structure
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2018 Volkswagen brand Chairman Herbert Diess speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The supervisory board of the German car maker is convening Thursday, April 12, 2018 to discuss a new leadership structure. (AP Photo/Tony Ding, file)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Volkswagen is replacing CEO Matthias Mueller with core brand head Herbert Diess and announcing a new management structure the German automaker said would enable faster decision-making as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry.

The company said in a statement Thursday that it would group all its brands and management functions into six broad business areas plus China. It said the new structure would streamline decision-making in the individual operating units as the company deals with a rapidly shifting business environment.

Diess is a former BMW executive who since 2015 has headed the core Volkswagen brand.

The company also is replacing its heads of human resources and purchasing. Porsche sports car division head Oliver Blume was promoted to the top management body of the entire group.

Mueller, who formerly headed Porsche, took over as CEO unexpectedly in Sept. 2015 when Martin Winterkorn resigned over the company’s scandal over cars rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

He led the company through the aftermath of the scandal and turned in record sales and strong profits in 2017. The company sold 10.74 million vehicles and made 11.6 billion euros in profit.

Board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said Muller had done “outstanding work” at a time when the company “faced the greatest challenge in its history.”

Conventional carmakers such as Volkswagen are racing with industry outsiders such as Waymo and Uber to dominate new ways of getting around, such as autonomous taxis and car-sharing services in which people use vehicles only when they need them instead of owning.