Christian Senger was running Car.Software.Org since March 2019.
Even people that are not very familiar with EVs and Volkswagen have heard that the ID.3 will be put for sale without all its functionalities. That is a software issue, one that also delayed VW Golf’s deliveries, the most important car from the German brand. Someone had to pay for that. According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, that someone was Christian Senger, Volkswagen’s head of the software division Car.Software.Org since March 2019.
Senger was a choice from the current VW Group CEO, Herbert Diess. The German newspaper says the CEO was impressed with how fast Senger delivered the tasks assigned to him. They worked together at BMW, where Senger helped develop the i Series, which includes the i3 and the i8.
In Volkswagen, Senger would have suffered from a completely different decision chain. As Handelsblatt explains, BMW moves by getting decisions from the board implemented. At Volkswagen, it is not that simple: a lot of different parties must have a say in order to get things going.
Apparently, Senger tried to make things simpler but made powerful enemies instead. That caused the delivery delay and the reason these opponents were searching to demote him. This is a significant loss for Volkswagen, according to the German newspaper: Senger would be one of the most brilliant executives at Volkswagen.
The description Handelsblatt shares of the whole process of getting Senger demoted gives us the impression that the company works more like a country than like a business. It also seems that its executives have to be more like politicians than skilled people at what their core jobs apparently require.
The management shake-up almost took Diess out of his position as well, according to Handelsblatt. Diess accused the management of making leaks to the press about internal issues – not surprisingly, the ones related to the software.
That enraged the board and Diess had to apologize for what he said. That seemingly calmed things down. Seemingly, we should stress. After all, Senger is no longer where Diess wanted him to be. With the demotion, he may even leave the company, although sources there say Volkswagen wants to keep him on the team.
The new Car.Software.Org head would be Markus Duesmann, currently Audi’s CEO. Yes, the same guy that said Volkswagen would catch up with Tesla very soon.
Apart from the Porsche/Piëch family, Volkswagen’s biggest shareholder, the company also has a stake in the hands of Lower Saxony (which makes it partly state-owned). They can appoint half of the 20 board members. The other half is composed of employees, with three of them appointed by unions. That gives a fair idea of how decision-making there must be hard there.
Source: Handelsblatt via Reuters and Volkswagen
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