One year ago, when Andreas Renschler announced his move to the executive board at Volkswagen after many years at Daimler, it was considered almost sacrilegious. There’s an unwritten law in the car industry, that once you join Volkswagen, Daimler or BMW, you stay there. This is particularly true of senior executives such as Mr. Renschler, 56, who most recently ran car production for Daimler after previously leading its truck unit.
It was this expertise in the truck sector that led Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn to lure him to Wolfsburg from Stuttgart. Volkswagen needed a lot of help in this area. Although the company has acquired two heavyweights in the past two years, Scania and MAN, it hasn’t quite known what to do with them.
The two companies operated almost independently and in parallel to Volkswagen’s existing commercial vehicle unit. But this side-by-side existence will end with Mr. Renschler’s arrival this week. While the Stuttgart native has a jovial personality, colleagues say, he is absolutely serious about what he wants to achieve.
He has had ample time in the past twelve months to plan the future structure of the truck division, in a way that allows for maximum synergies to be leveraged from the two heavy-duty commercial vehicle producers. Continuing efforts to develop new exhaust systems, motors and other components in two different locations within Volkswagen makes little financial sense.
“First of all, he will visit the company sites and listen,” a source said. Important groups, like the works councils, will be high on this list – it is widely acknowledged that no smooth restructuring of the truck operations can proceed without their active involvement.