The Volkswagen Group, like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition, thrives on surprise. The latest: Johan de Nysschen has returned to VW of America in the newly created role of COO for the Volkswagen brand. De Nysschen will report to VWoA CEO Scott Keogh, with orders to "streamline executive reporting structure and let brand better coordinate and align operations in the region," according to the VW press release.
First, the backstory. De Nysschen worked for the Volkswagen Group from 1993 to 2012. The last nine years of his tenure, he served as president of Audi of America, and leading a team that included marketing chief Keogh and COO Mark del Rosso, Audi climbed from 35,000 sales in 2003 to 139,000 sales in 2012. In 2009, the brand began a sales streak of 107 straight months of increases, a bender that didn't end until 2018.
Volkswagen, in de Nysschen's absence, overhauled its whole program, in some ways voluntarily, others ways not so. One of the voluntary revamps involved creating a regional structure in 2016 permitting local teams more leeway to run the local business. The North American team put its latitude to work on products honed for our market like the larger Tiguan, the Atlas and the coming Atlas Sport. Those first two products have helped up sales volume more than 6% this year.
Keogh, who became CEO of VWoA last year, says the new COO hire "will help make us faster, better and smarter. He'll speed our decision-making and dive deep into our day-to-day business so we can continue to make this brand matter again." Volkswagen aims to return to the 5% market share it hasn't seen in the U.S. in decades, roughly double the carmaker's current share.
De Nysschen starts his job Oct. 1, shepherding Volkswagen "brand's strategy and overall operational excellence" through the launch of numerous products that will define the brand for the next decade at least, and perhaps much longer.