Volkswagen AG’s designated North America chief turned down the job in the wake of a management revamp triggered by the diesel-emissions scandal.
Winfried Vahland, a company veteran who currently leads VW’s Czech Skoda unit, decided to not take over the new post as had been planned and will leave the carmaker, Skoda said in an e-mailed statement.
Vahland was among the candidates to succeed former VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn, who resigned last month, but the supervisory board favored former Porsche chief Matthias Mueller. Vahland is leaving Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen at his own request. His departure is unrelated to the investigations into the rigging of millions of diesel engines worldwide, Skoda said in the statement.
Volkswagen said Tuesday it will reduce annual investment by about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) at its namesake car brand as the automaker steps up a cost-cutting push to weather the impact of the diesel-emissions scandal.
VW is under increasing financial strain following revelations last month that it rigged diesel engines to circumvent emissions regulations. The company set aside 6.5 billion euros for repairs and to compensate customers, but has said that won’t be enough. VW faces numerous lawsuits in the U.S., where it has lost money and struggled to become more than an also-ran despite rapid expansion elsewhere.
Vahland was appointed head of VW’s North American operations as part of a restructuring plan pushed by Mueller and meant to shift more responsibility to brand and regional managers. VW wasn’t immediately available to comment on whether it still planned to fill the post.