In 2011, Wolfgang Durheimer took on the helm of Bentley Motors after the retirement of Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, the 8-year CEO and Chairman of the firm. Paefgen will continue to work in the Volkswagen Group as an adviser to Durheimer. Before becoming the CEO of Bentley Motors, Mr. Durheimer was employed by Porsche AG as its Executive VP for Research and Development.
When asked about his new position in Bentley, the 52-year-old Durheimer described it as a “significant responsibility.” The new Bentley CEO acknowledged that he had a lot to learn about what he described as a company with an “illustrious history” and an excellent track record in developing groundbreaking and innovative vehicles.
While flattered by the appointment, Durheimer expressed confidence that he can put his experience at Porsche to good use in his new job as CEO of Bentley Motors. Volkswagen AG’s Board of Management Chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn also expressed confidence that Durheimer’s expertise that he gained in Porsche will be a big help to keeping Bugatti and Bentley in the lead in the luxury vehicle market.
Wolfgang Durheimer started out in BMW in 1986. He served in various positions in BMW’s motorcycle arm. His early experiences included being a product manager and later on Product Development chief, and eventually in R&D and project management as a senior manager. After 13 years in BMW, Durheimer became the overseer for the 911 product line in Porsche. 2 years later, he served as Board Member for Research and Development and Product Management.
Durheimer was directly responsible for the development of several vehicles that cemented Porsche’s success in its market. He will be replacing Dr. Paefgen, who is set to retire in May of 2011. Dr. Paefgen ended his 30-year career that was marked by successes during his tenures as Chairman of the Bentley, Bugatti, Audi and Lamborghini brands, with the last 9 years of his career spent as Chairman of Bentley.
Since 2002, Dr. Paefgen led the company when it was finalizing various investments that immediately led to impressive returns for the company. Under Paefgen’s leadership, Bentley finished developed on the Continental GT race car, which gave the company its comeback victory in the Le Mans racetrack. The Continental GT directly contributed to Bentley’s phenomenal growth despite the global economic recession felt in the years following its release.
By 2007, the global demand for the Continental GT has led to a larger workforce and a ten-fold increase in global sales. Paefgan, speaking on his retirement, described his tenure in Bentley as a “privilege.” He also described his time as Chairman of the company as a period of “tremendous success” interspersed with some setbacks.
Paefgen then gave recognition to the efforts of the workforce at the Crewe facility, stating that he “treasure(s) the [efforts] the most.” He then stated that he will be turning Bentley over to the very capable hands of Wolfgang Durheimer.