Labour representatives at Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE are concerned by a sudden rush by the German carmaker's board to approve sweeping changes on Thursday, sources said, while Handelsblatt reported that its finance chief could step down.
In the aftermath of the diesel-cheating scandal, Mr Mueller sought to overhaul Volkswagen's rigid top-down management structure, delegating more responsibility to its brand and regional chiefs.
But the tug of war between its controlling families, unions and other stakeholders has made it hard to drive through structural changes that investors have said are key to the company fulfilling its potential.
In tapping the 59-year-old Mr Diess for the top job, Volkswagen would elevate a senior executive from its own ranks, while handing the reins to someone who was not at the carmaker when the diesel-cheating scandal began.
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Automaker Volkswagen is replacing CEO Matthias Mueller with core brand head Herbert Diess and announcing a new management structure the German automaker said would enable faster decision-making as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry. The move is part of an effort to reorganize the company to do business more efficiently, the company said.
Mr Diess, a former BMW executive who joined VW in July 2015, has clashed with the company's labour leaders.
Early in Diess's tenure as head of the VW vehicle brand, labour leader Bernd Osterloh publicly questioned his credibility in contract talks, raising concerns that he might fall victim to the carmaker's complex internal politics, which has toppled many high-profile newcomers. Bernd Osterloh, the company's powerful labor leader, balked at negotiating with him during tough contract talks in 2016, but Diess prevailed with a landmark deal that paved the way to cutting as many as 30,000 jobs and saving 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 billion). It's a sign of real change at VW. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, Volkswagen's long-time head of purchasing, will leave the company. He then took charge of development, but was ultimately passed over for the CEO job, when the Munich-based company picked Harald Krueger in December 2014.
Today's announcement comes after VW directors said it could replace the group's CEO as part of a wider shake-up in management and strategy.