Why was Wolfgang Dürheimer replaced at Audi as head of development? Will he go back to BMW?

Wolfgang Dürheimer

Wolfgang Dürheimer

No, it was not alleged omissions by the development department, a lack of speed or even sleepy innovations that cost Wolfgang Dürheimer the job. Just ten months in office, even the always impatiently demanding Ferdinand Piëch would have been patient for a few months longer.

As I was assured from a very well-informed source in Dürheimer's environment, his “offense” consisted rather of having my own ideas about future Audi development work within the Volkswagen group. Dürheimer only asked for what Ferdinand Piëch had asked when he was head of Audi development: conceptual independence from VW.

However, Dürheimer overlooked the fact that cost pressure and the obligation to have many identical parts make this independence impossible. In short: he did not fail because of a lack of ideas or his reservations regarding electromobility, but because he always had to consider other brands within a group. Nobody doubts that Dürheimer is an excellent engineer. "He can do it," Piëch is said to have said again and again when Dürheimer was still in charge of development at Porsche. Among other things, the models were created under his leadership Cayenne, Panamera and Spyder 918 and successful further developments of the 911. Speaking of electrical skepticism: Dürheimer shares this with Ferdinand Piëch. He, too, is holding back with any euphoria. The only electric vehicle that he enjoyed was his Segway, said Piëch at an award ceremony. This is the single-axle vehicle that keeps its balance under computer control and can be mastered by everyone in the shortest possible time. And elsewhere, he put it even more clearly: "I don't believe in the pure electric car."

The decision to send Ulrich Hackenberg to Ingolstadt came as a surprise to everyone involved. Even for those who have touched and met them. One hears from corporate circles that Wolfgang Dürheimer should be kept in the group and that he will continue to receive an “attractive position” with a lot of decision-making responsibility. "Dürheimer is a top man we don't want to do without," says an insider. Rumors that Dürheimer could switch back to BMW, where he started his career in 1984 and worked until 1999, are "fancies".

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