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VW names Porsche r&d boss to head Bentley, Bugatti brands

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VW names Porsche r&d boss to head Bentley, Bugatti brands

Paul McVeigh

Automotive News Europe -- November 29, 2010 15:20 CET

Volkswagen today named Porsche executive Wolfgang Duerheimer as CEO of its Bentley and Bugatti brands.

Duerheimer, 52, will succeed Franz-Josef Paefgen, 64, who is retiring as head of the UK-based ultraluxury carmaker Bentley and as boss of VW's Bugatti supercar brand.

The changes take effect Feb. 1.

Duerheimer is currently head of research and development at Porsche AG. He will also also take over from Paefgen as head of Volkswagen Group Motorsport.

Wolfgang Hatz, 51, will replace Duerheimer as Porsche r&d chief. Hatz will retain his current function as Volkswagen's head of powertrain development.

Paefgen, who joined VW group in 1980, has headed Bentley since 2002 and Bugatti since 2007. Before he moved to Bentley, Paefgen was head of Audi.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101129/ANE/101129902/1296#ixzz16gYrBqKs

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Paefgen retiring at Bentley, Dürheimer appointed chairman and CEO

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Nov 29th 2010 at 11:31AM


The game of game of CEO musical chairs at Volkswagen is still underway. Wolfgang Dürheimer, 52, formerly executive vice president of Porsche, is now the chairman and CEO of Bentley. Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, the company's current CEO, will retire in February after eight years of leading the ultra-lux brand. Though he's hit the traditional German retirement age of 65, the well-regarded exec is slated to stay on the payroll as a consultant for VW and an adviser for Bentley.

Dürheimer, meanwhile, has a long history in the automotive and motorcycle worlds. He joined up with BMW in 1986 and held lead roles in product development for the Roundel's two-wheeled operation as well as research and development for the company's passenger car division before moving to Porsche in 1999. While there, he helmed the 911 line before heading up research and development for the sportscar maker.

Hit the jump for the full press release.

[source: Bentley]

Show full PR text

Wolfgang Dürheimer appointed Chairman and Chief Executive

Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen to remain as an advisor

Crewe, 29 November 2010: Bentley Motors today announced the appointment of Wolfgang Dürheimer as its new Chairman and Chief Executive. Mr Dürheimer, who joins Bentley from Porsche AG where he was Executive Vice-President, Research and Development, will commence his new role on 1st February 2011. He succeeds Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen who will retire after over eight years at the helm but has agreed to remain in an advisory capacity to Bentley and as a consultant to the Volkswagen Group.

Beginning his career in the motor industry with BMW in 1986, Wolfgang Dürheimer (52) has held positions as a product manager and also Head of Product Development in the motorcycle division. He later became a member of the senior management team responsible for research, development and project management. In 1999, Mr Dürheimer moved to Porsche, taking management responsibility for the iconic 911 product line. Since 2001 he has been a Member of the Board responsible for Research, Development and Product Management. Under his management new models and product lines have been developed which have strengthened the success of the Porsche brand.

Speaking about the appointment, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn said: "Wolfgang Dürheimer personifies the outstanding technical competency of Porsche. He will bring this expertise and his experience to Bentley and Bugatti, helping them maintain their leading positions within the luxury segment."

Speaking about his new role, Mr Dürheimer said: "I am flattered by the trust put in me by the Volkswagen Group. To take charge of a Company such as Bentley is a significant responsibility. The Company has such an illustrious history and the developments made over the past few years have been outstanding. I know I have a lot to learn about the Brand and the people but hope my experience with Porsche will serve me well in a new role and a new country."

Dr Paefgen, who reaches the normal retirement age of 65 in May, has been asked to remain involved in the Volkswagen Group and Bentley in particular in an advisory capacity. This reflects Dr Paefgen's undoubted experience within the motor industry during which he has been Chairman of some of the world's most illustrious marques including Bentley and Bugatti but also Audi and Lamborghini. "Over the past 30 years, he has played a key role in corporate development at the helm of a number of Group brands." said Professor Dr Winterkorn.

During his tenure at Bentley, Dr Paefgen has overseen nothing less than the renaissance of the Company. Having joined the Company in 2002, Dr Paefgen oversaw the final stages of Volkswagen's billion pound investment in both the Crewe factory and its R&D facilities. The first fruits of this investment were seen the following year; a victorious return to Le Mans and the launch of the car that transformed the Company's fortunes – the Continental GT. Creating a new market segment, the GT won Bentley new followers across the world, increasing sales ten-fold by 2007 and helping the Company increase its workforce to over 3500. Despite the global economic downturn, Bentley has continued to invest in new products including the new Continental GT which was launched in Paris this year and the flagship Mulsanne, which Dr Paefgen described as containing "everything I know about the creation of cars".

"It has been a privilege to have been a small part of the story of Bentley", said Dr Paefgen. "During my time here we have had some tremendous successes and inevitably faced some real challenges. However, it is the skill, the commitment and the passion of everyone at Crewe that I will treasure the most. In Wolfgang Dürheimer I am convinced we have an individual with a feel for the both the Brand and what makes Bentleys special. The company is in very capable hands."

Wolfgang Dürheimer is a native of Bavaria in Germany and is married with two grown up children. He will commence the leadership of Bentley Motors on 1st February 2011.

Filed under: Europe, Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, Bentley



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Shake-Up At Bentley

Paefgen retiring, Durheimer to lead luxury maker as it struggles to regain momentum.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.29, 2010

In with the new car, out with the old CEO. Franz-Josef Paefgen poses with the second-generation Bentley Continental GT.

In the midst of a major new product roll-out, Bentley is about to undergo a major shake-up in its management team, as well.

Long-time CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen will retire, with Wolfgang Durheimer slotted in as his replacement next February.

The executive shift comes as Bentley is in the midst of re-doing its entire line-up. The British marque’s aging flagship sedan, the Arnage, was recently replaced by an all-new model, the $285,000 Mulsanne. Next up is an all-new version of the Continental line-up, Bentley’s volume mainstay. The sporty Continental GT replacement made its debut, last month, at the Paris Motor Show.

The original Continental was a transformative model for Bentley, which was purchased by Volkswagen AG a little more than a decade ago. Launched during Paefgen’s 8-year tenure as CEO, it generated sales numbers never before seen in the ultra-premium luxury market. Immediately prior to the 2008 global economic meltdown, Bentley sales soared to more than 10,000 a year, with the various Continental spin-offs, including the GT coupe, Flying Spur sedan and GTC convertible accounting for 90% of that volume.

Bentley's new CEO Wolfgang Durheimer takes over next February.

Since the economic crisis, however, Bentley sales have fallen by roughly half. The ultra-premium market, in particular, has been hard hit – not because buyers don’t have the money, Paefgen has suggested, but because “It is hard to be seen driving up to your factory in a new Bentley when you are laying off workers.”

New competition has also been a challenge. Long-time ally and now key competitor Rolls-Royce got off to a slow start when it was sold to BMW. But it has been gaining momentum, over the last several years, with the launch of new models, notably the all-new Rolls-Royce Ghost, a downsized sedan that is comparably sized to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur – but which carries a price tag closer to the new Bentley Mulsanne.

Paefgen’s departure comes as little surprise to those who follow Bentley. If anything, he stayed longer than some had expected hoping to see the new Mulsanne and second-generation Continental into production. But he has now reached Volkswagen’s mandatory retirement age.

Until a few months ago, his likely successor appeared to be the British Stuart McCullough, a former Toyota executive and Bentley’s second-in-command. But McCullough departed unexpectedly, several months ago. And the luxury maker has instead turned to 52-year-old Durheimer, who began his career with BMW, where he went on to head product development for the Bavarians’ motorcycle operations.

Durheimer migrated to Porsche, in 1999, where he was put in charge of development for the iconic 911. Two years later, he was named board member in charge of research and product development – giving him the opportunity to leave his imprint on any number of recent Porsche models, from the Cayman to the Panamera.

Volkswagen is in the midst of digesting a costly takeover of the smaller German company – a move that followed the unlikely –and ultimately failed — attempt by Porsche to acquire VW. The decision to move Durheimer reflects the serious concerns about Bentley’s recent stumbles, insiders suggest.

“During my time here we have had some tremendous successes and inevitably faced some real challenges,” said Dr. Paefgen, in a prepared released. “In Wolfgang Dürheimer I am convinced we have an individual with a feel for both the Brand and what makes Bentleys special. The company is in very capable hands.”

Paefgen has agreed to remain an advisor to both Bentley and the Volkswagen Group.



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