VW Canada CEO tapped to take reins at Audi of America

Volkswagen Group Canada CEO Daniel Weissland will lead Audi of America beginning Sept. 1, about four months after Mark Del Rosso’s abrupt resignation.

Weissland, 46, will take over as Audi of America president after heading the German group’s Canadian operations since December 2017. Cian O’Brien, who has been interim president of Audi of America since May 2, will remain COO.

“Daniel is a strong leader of people with deep expertise in our business and a track record for driving consistent sales growth, which makes him an excellent fit for President of Audi of America,” said Hildegard Wortmann, member of the Audi Board of Management, in a statement.

Del Rosso resigned on May 2 after fewer than six months on the job. The former Audi of America COO and head of Bentley’s Americas division followed Scott Keogh, now CEO of VW Group of America, in the role.

In Canada, Weissland led VW to a record sales year in 2018. VW Group sold 118,448 new vehicles in Canada in 2018, a 3.6 per cent year-over-year gain. VW Canada’s sales were down eight per cent to 63,023 units this year through July.

VW Canada CFO Lorie-Ann Roxburgh will become interim managing director of VW Group in Canada, according to spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff. Marc Guentermann, senior director of aftersales for the VW brand, will act as interim head of the Volkswagen brand in Canada, Tetzlaff said.

A permanent replacement for Weissland in Canada has not been named.

Weissland began working for Audi in 1997, when he had internships in industrial engineering with Audi AG and product marketing at Audi of America. He held various roles for the brand in Europe and the Middle East before becoming president of Audi Canada in 2015.

He moves to Audi of America as the brand navigates a declining U.S. new-vehicle market. Through July, Audi’s U.S. sales were down about five per cent to 120,810 vehicles, a drop driven by a 13 per cent plunge in car sales.

Weissland steps into the role as Audi prepares for a host of redesigns and refreshes in the coming year and as it looks to electrify its lineup. A redesign of the A3 sedan is expected in 2020, while the A4 and A5 cars and Q7 crossover will be freshened.

The luxury brand, meanwhile, launched its e-tron battery-electric crossover earlier this year and is expected to launch a fully electric Q4 e-tron crossover and e-tron GT sedan in 2021.

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