Bentley production chief to lead Volkswagen’s software overhaul

FILE PHOTO: A Volkswagen logo is seen during the New York International Auto Show

By Jan Schwartz

(Reuters) -Volkswagen has appointed Bentley production chief Peter Bosch to lead its software subsidiary Cariad, dismissing all but one of the unit’s current executive board members as the automaker tries to get the troubled division on track.

Bosch will take over from June 1, the German group said on Monday, with two further software experts to join Cariad’s board alongside him and human resources head Rainer Zugehoer, the only board member to remain in his post.

Bosch, a former Oliver Wyman consultant who spent nearly seven years at the Volkswagen brand before moving to Bentley in 2017, will also take over financial management at Cariad, Volkswagen said, confirming an earlier Handelsblatt report.

“He is a strategist, an enabler and a team player,” Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume said of Bosch in a statement.

Thomas Guenther, currently a senior vice president at Cariad, will fill one of the two software roles, sources told Reuters earlier on Monday, as first reported by Manager Magazin.

The company is in talks with outgoing Cariad Chief Executive Dirk Hilgenberg and his team about new roles within Volkswagen, Blume said.

The sweeping changes come as Blume conducts a strategic review of every facet of the carmaker after taking over from former leader Herbert Diess last September, who set up Cariad but failed to put it on solid footing.

Cariad is “stepping up the pace and broadening our approach to partnerships,” Blume said, without providing further details.

Cariad has been dogged by delays and overspending, with a new software platform intended to enable “Level 4” autonomous driving, due to be implemented across the fleet from 2026, pushed back to the end of the decade, sources have said.

Automakers are racing to develop competitive software-powered features from self driving to in-car entertainment that provide them with valuable data on customer behaviour and vehicle performance.

Diess bundled Volkswagen’s efforts on the matter into Cariad to try to streamline development and retain control over what he believed would be the key area of innovation for cars in the future.

Blume is not planning to shift gears completely with the new leadership, sources told Reuters on Monday – but he does intend to place greater emphasis on partnerships to get the carmaker’s software plans underway, rather than going at it alone.

“We will certainly make some changes, but this is not a 180-degree turn,” one source said.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz, Writing by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Friederike Heine and Mark Potter)