Audi suffers new blow as development boss steps down - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum
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#1 Old 09-28-2018
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Audi suffers new blow as development boss steps down

FRANKFURT -- Audi's technical development chief, Peter Mertens, is stepping down for health reasons in the latest blow to the luxury brand that is embroiled in parent Volkswagen Group's diesel-emissions cheating scandal.

Mertens, 57, will be replaced by Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, currently head of VW Group quality assurance, Audi said on Friday.

In a statement, Volkswagen CEO and Audi Supervisory Board Chairman Herbert Diess said: "We deeply regret that Peter Mertens is stepping down."

Mertens is highly respected in the industry. In 2016 he was lured to Audi from Volvo, where he was head of research and development. When Mertens started in May 2017 his arrival filled a leadership vacuum after his two predecessors, Ulrich Hackenberg and Stefan Knirsch, both lost their jobs amid the emissions-cheating scandal.

Industry watchers expected that Mertens, as a VW Group outsider, would have an advantage in restoring Audi's reputation and returning the brand to the technological forefront after it fell behind rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Mertens was absent from the global press launch of the Audi e-tron full-electric SUV, the automaker's first Tesla fighter, in San Francisco on Sept. 18, prompting speculation about his health. Sources said he missed the launch because he had an operation.

Merten's successor, Rothenpieler, is a VW Group veteran. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering and joined the company in 1986. Rothenpieler held various senior management positions in development at the VW, Skoda and Bentley brands before serving from 2014 to February 2016 as technical development chief at the VW’s commercial vehicles division.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler remains in jail after he was taken into custody in June by Munich prosecutors who suspected him of interfering with their criminal probe into the company's efforts to install prohibited software in diesel engines.

VW Group's board postponed a decision on Stadler's future on Friday. Sales executive Bram Schot is Stadler's interim replacement.

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