Musical chairs at VW explained

The probable reason behind a couple of big moves at the top of Volkswagen and the two truck brands it owns, Scania and MAN, is explained by an announcement this week. VW has announced it is creating an integrated commercial vehicles group to be called Truck & Bus to become the holding company for its commercial vehicle brands.

In recent weeks, Scania CEO and anointed successor of long term boss Leif Ostling, Martin Lundstedt precipitously resigned to move across to Swedish rival, Volvo, ousting immediately Olof Persson from the role. A few days later, one of the most powerful names on the VW board, Ferdinand Piëch, resigned his role as Chairman with a statement from VW stating, ‘the mutual trust necessary ‎for successful cooperation no longer exists’. Piëch was the last link from the Porsche family on the VW board.

Andreas Renschler
Andreas Renschler

The proximity of the two announcements suggests neither Lundstedt or Piëch agreed with the plan driven through by the man who is to take charge of the new organisation overseeing the truck making group for VW, Andreas Renschler. He is a former CEO of the Daimler truck division who is used to getting his own way and has been in charge of coming up with a plan for the development of the VW owned truck brands.

The shares in Scania held by Volkswagen will be transferred to the new Truck & Bus operation, which already holds 75 per cent of the voting rights in MAN. Truck & Bus will control the commercial vehicles brands, with the task of realising the synergy potential between the brands.

Renschler is already a member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen and he will be joined on the board of the new entity’s Supervisory Board, by Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen globally.

“Our goal is to take the commercial vehicles holding to the top of our industry in terms of profitability, technologies and, above all, customer satisfaction”, said Renschler. “Bringing together our commercial vehicle brands under one roof means we can focus more strongly on the needs of the truck and bus business and can therefore accelerate the decision-making process. In so doing, the MAN and Scania brands retain their independence, in line with Volkswagen’s basic principle.”

It would appear both Lundstedt and Piëch felt the, previous, separate branding strategy, keeping Scania and MAN at arms length from each other, would avoid any dilution of brand strength. Clearly, neither were able to stop Renschler from forcing the issue and jumped ship as a result.