Former Continental AG Chief Executive Officer Karl-Thomas Neumann is a candidate to replace Volkswagen AG's Winfried Vahland, said a person familiar with the matter. Neumann, who got hired by VW last November, will have big shoes to fill as Vahland was able to obtain a $1 billion profit last year after reversing losses and a receding market share.
The reason that Vahland will be leaving the China division in the later part of the year after being its chief for five years is to return to the Czech Skoda unit and replace Reinhard Jung.
Whoever replaces Vahland faces a daunting challenge of widening its market share as rivals Hyundai Motor Co. and General Motors Co. hasten their development of new models.
Lin Huaibin of IHS Global Insight said that VW would have to update aging products to rival GM's plan to launch 25 new or refreshed models in China by the end of next year.
Lin said that VW should have a better understanding of what local Chinese customers want. He said that local buyers want a "greater demand for modern cars, fuel efficiency and safety provisions."
Lin recognizes VW for being the largest overseas maker of passenger cars in China and being the first to enter the market three decades ago.
VW is said to be relying on two "very old-fashioned" 1980s vehicles, the Santana and Jetta sedans. Lin also said that these models together account for nearly a one-third of VW's 1.4 million deliveries to Chinese customers last year.