If you’re chosen to give the opening speech at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, you’re part of a very select group of people. VW spent months of networking to ensure that one of its executives got that honor, according to sources at the company.
Last summer, Martin Winterkorn, the then chief executive, finally got the OK to enter the date in his diary. By September, the diesel scandal had cost him his job, but that didn’t matter. The VW speech would go on.
One might think that Mr. Winterkorn’s successor, Matthias Müller, would step up to the lectern himself. Instead he chose to send the head of the core VW brand, Herbert Diess. Until half a year ago, Mr. Winterkorn held both positions — that of chief executive of the VW group and head of the VW brand.