Michael Lohscheller is to become CEO of the Vietnamese car manufacturer VINFAST LLC. After he departs from Stellantis set at the end of August, the acting Opel CEO will be charged with expanding VinFast’s operations, and presence around the globe as the company announced.
Lohscheller’s departure from Opel/Stellantis has been known since mid-July: At the time, Opel had announced that Renault DACH boss Uwe Hochgeschurtz would take over in Rüsselsheim as of September, as Lohscheller had “decided to take on another challenge outside the Stellantis Group”. So now it is also clear where the still-Opel boss is headed.
According to VinGroup, the largest conglomerate in Vietnam, Lohscheller has been appointed CEO of the VinFast Global car division. In this position, Lohscheller will “lead VinFast’s operations in the current markets of Vietnam, the US, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands, with the clear objective of growing the business with a focus on North America and Europe”. This includes implementing strategic initiatives to make VinFast a global smart electric car company, VinGroup said.
“Vingroup warmly welcomes Michael Lohscheller to our leadership team. We strongly believe that his appearance will accelerate VinFast’s up and running global expansion,” said Thuy Le, vice-chairman of VinGroup. “Michael Lohscheller’s participation in VinFast’s senior management team reaffirms Vingroup’s long-term plan in attracting outstanding talents and acquiring management expertise from elite circles of the global automotive industry.”
According to the announcement from his new employer, Lohscheller himself says he has always been attracted to new challenges throughout his career. “When the opportunity came to join VinFast, I was immediately attracted because of the growth opportunities,” Lohscheller said. “I look forward to working with the leadership team to grow the company and establish it as a global smart electric car company.”
Lohscheller has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry. Among other positions, he was executive vice president of Volkswagen Group of America. After joining Opel, he took over the finance department, rising to become chairman of the executive board after the departure of then Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. In this role, he oversaw the integration of Opel into the PSA Group and led the brand back into the black.
In addition to the new challenges at VinFast, disagreements at his current employer may also have contributed to the change. As the Handelsblatt wrote last week, Lohscheller had not been satisfied with his newly merged Stellantis Group position. Within a few months of the merger, the Opel management was reduced to a minimum of two people – important departments such as development, finance and sales are now managed at the Group level. As a result, Lohscheller no longer even had direct access to his own development department as Opel boss – according to the report, the ambitious manager did not want to come to terms with the role as pure brand boss (unlike in PSA times, Lohscheller was not a member of the Stellantis board).
At VinFast, Lohscheller will take over responsibility at an important stage. Currently, the company (production takes place in its own manufacturing complex in northern Vietnam) develops and manufactures electric scooters and electric buses. Production of the first passenger cars is to start soon: The three electric SUVs will be launched in Vietnam, North America and Europe in 2021 and 2022.
VinFast had given the first details of the models in January 2021. According to the details, they are called VF31, VF32 and VF33 and are in the C, D and E segments. In the announcement of Lohscheller’s commitment, however, the models are VF e34, VF e35 and VF e36.
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