VW streamlines Board of Management / Ulbrich becomes Head of China Development
In its company announcement, the Volkswagen brand itself refers to a streamlining of the Brand Board of Management: “The brand’s Technical Development to bundle technical project steering for future technologies and development under one roof going forward,” it says in the press release. The Volkswagen brand Board of Management will thus be reduced from eight to seven members. Organizationally, this is intended to ensure “efficient structures and stronger networking”. There are also personnel implications. More on this in a moment. With the merger, VW is also demonstrating that the new drive technologies are increasingly becoming the main business.
Although the official announcement does not mention the need to save money as a further reason for the merger, there is a reference to the ‘Performance Program’ presented in December, which VW has imposed on itself. This is nothing other than a major savings program. “Kai Grünitz will manage the New Mobility topics of the future and Technical Development from a single source in future. This is the right step at the right time,” says Thomas Schäfer, CEO of the Volkswagen brand and member of the Group Board of Management of Volkswagen AG responsible for the Core brand group. “New, digital technologies will thus become an even more natural part of our future-oriented vehicle development. In addition, we are making an important contribution to the brand’s performance program with more efficient structures and leaner processes.”
According to the Wolfsburg-based company, all development activities for future technologies and vehicle architectures (MEB and SSP) are already bundled under Grünitz, Volkswagen brand Board Member for Technical Development (TE). In future, the technical project management of the model series will be managed exclusively by TE. “In the context of the brand’s performance program, this course of action supports the further optimization of development processes in Wolfsburg and helps shorten development times,” VW wrote. Reducing model development times is one of the manufacturer’s central concerns to become more competitive again.
For Thomas Ulbrich, who has been a Member of the Board of Management for New Mobility since 2022, the merger of the divisions will mark the start of a new chapter in the Group from April 1, 2024: he will be appointed Head of Development for the Volkswagen Group in China – where he will succeed Marcus Hafkemeyer. In his new role, Ulbrich will continue to drive forward the technological localization of the portfolio. Ulbrich will also become CEO of the Volkswagen China Technology Company (VCTC) in Hefei in eastern China. The Group’s largest development centre outside Germany is the central development unit of Volkswagen Group China, with a focus on intelligent, fully networked electric cars, the manufacturer emphasizes. Among other things, the VCTC is also developing the first local electric platform, which will form the basis for new VW brand models in China from 2026.
“On behalf of the entire team I would like to thank Thomas Ulbrich for his tremendous commitment to the Volkswagen brand. He has been a driving force behind the development of our ID. electric range and put some truly pioneering work into software and digital networking and the associated processes,” emphasized brand CEO, Thomas Schäfer. This work is now bearing fruit and has been fully transferred to Technical Development. “I am delighted that our close ties will continue once he has taken up his new role in China and that he will be contributing his expertise to the development of the VW brand in the world’s largest automobile market.”