Volkswagen's Bernd Pischetsrieder will step down as chief executive of Europe's biggest carmaker at the end of the year, to be replaced by the head of its premium car unit Audi, the company said yesterday.
Mr Pischetsrieder is the man who in his time as head of BMW tried to make the takeover of Rover work.
It didn't, and he went. "The presidium of the supervisory board of Volkswagen and the chairman of the board of management, Dr Bernd Pischetsrieder, have agreed upon his resignation effective from December 31," it said.
It gave no reason for the move, which comes only six months after the supervisory board unanimously voted to extend Mr Pischetsrieder's contract until April 2012.
Volkswagen said the sixman steering committee of the supervisory board had unanimously proposed appointing Audi's chief executive Martin Winterkorn to replace him starting next year. The full board will address the issue on November 17.
A supervisory board source said officials had agreed not to discuss why Mr Pischetsrieder, aged 58, was going, but said VW would offer him a new function within the group.
" We have discussed internally that he will make himself available for special assignments," the source said.
Mr Pischetsrieder, former chief executive of BMW, had to survive a battle to stay on as head earlier this year.
His own predecessor and current supervisory board chairman, Ferdinand Piech, had said that extending the contract remained an "open issue".