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Müller at the helm of VW

Dirk Kaufmann/ tkoSeptember 25, 2015

Matthias Müller succeeds Martin Winterkorn as Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Until now Müller has headed VW's luxury car subsidiary Porsche. And just like his predecessor, he is an automotive engineer.

Matthias Müller Nachfolger Winterkorn Volkswagen
Image: Imago

Matthias Müller is 62 years old, an age where many others would probably start thinking about retirement.

But since the trained toolmaker became CEO of Germany's sports car legend Porsche five years ago, retirement is out of the question. Even more so since Müller has been appointed new CEO of the Volkswagen Group, where he will have to clean up the mess left behind by the falsified diesel car emission tests.

Müller is only six years younger than his predecessor, Martin Winterkorn. Like him, Müller is a dedicated engineer. So far he's not made a name of himself as a passionate entrepreneur. But Müller's task will be to get things right for the moment, to steer Volkswagen into calmer waters and - what's most important - to restore consumer confidence.

'I am a Volkswagen guy'

Müller, who was born in 1953 in what's now the eastern German state of Saxony, is one of VW's typical home-grown players: "I am an authentic Volkswagen guy", he once confessed. After his graduation in 1971, he was hired by today's VW subsidiary Audi to learn the trade of a toolmaker. After studying engineering in Munich, he received a degree in computer science and returned to Audi's headquarters in the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt.

His name is linked to the product management of Audi's A3, of which he was in charge from 1993 to 1995. After that, he was in charge of all Audi models. In 2002 Müller was promoted to chief coordinator for the production of all sports cars within the realm of Volkswagen. When Martin Winterkorn became VW's CEO in 2007, Müller went to the corporation's headquarters in Wolfsburg and took responsibility for the product strategy of all brands. In this position he was in charge of refining VW's modular construction system.

After that, in October 2010, Müller became Porsche's CEO. In March 2015 he joined Volkswagen's executive board.

USA Deutschland LA Auto Show in Los Angeles 2014 Porsche 918
The new Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid on display at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, November 2014Image: F. J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Electric sports cars

At first, Müller didn't like the idea of electric Porsche sports cars at all. The batteries were too expensive, he argued, the driving range too limited.

But he changed his mind, and now Müller is confident Porsche could produce electric or hybrid versions of all Porsche models in the future. "We're thinking about it", he told the media just recently. The e-strategy will even include Porsche's iconic 911 model.

"We will bring a 911 plug-in hybrid model to market in 2018," Müller confirmed.

Porsche's electric mobility concepts could be an area of expertise the new Volkswagen CEO could use to turn over a new leaf at VW as a whole. If Porsche can build e-sports cars, the rest of VW's brands could follow suit. And if customers were to buy emission-free electric VW cars, the auto maker's emission tests scam could one fine day fall into oblivion.