While Matthias Müller hits the halfway point of his first week as Volkswagen’s latest Chief Executive, his employers have appointed the new chairman of Porsche AG. Forty-seven year-old Doctor Oliver Blume takes the helm at Stuttgart: a move that has been applauded by many including the Chairman of the Works Council. Will putting the young production chief in charge prove the right way to go?
No doubt Blume is a capable professional, but he has only been at Porsche for two years. Graduating in mechanical engineering from Braunschweig in the early 1990s, Blume headed straight for Audi, where he progressed through the ranks to lead the bodyshell engineering team on the Audi A3 before spending time at the University of Shanghai.
Staying with Audi, Blume led development of a new Audi plant, shifting sideways to SEAT in 2004 and eventually helping to shift production of the Audi A3 to a SEAT plant in Spain, when the Spanish economy collapsed and new car sales plummeted. Success here led to promotion as Global Head of Production for Volkswagen AG in 2009, then onto the Executive Board of Porsche AG as the member responsible for production in 2013.
Porsche Production Cost Cuts?
Wolfgang Porsche renewed Blume’s contract ahead of schedule earlier this year with a five-year extension so, as Müller was always headed for Volkswagen, no doubt this Porsche job has been on the cards for a while. As a Volkswagen man through and through and a keen production cost cutter, Blume may be just what the Supervisory Board wants in charge as global operating costs are pinned to the top of the long-term agenda.
Volkswagen Emissions Scandal: $50 billion
The automotive business unit at Duisburg-Essen University recently estimated that the dieselgate scandal could cost Volkswagen up to $50 billion, so to believe that Porsche will be ringfenced from that would be foolish. As the substantial Chinese market continues to contract, Blume will be expected to deliver increasing sales and enhanced profitability, so what marketing genius will be helping the new boss to achieve this?
New Porsche Sales and Marketing Chief
Fourteen-year Porsche veteran and current head of Sales and Marketing, Bernhard Maier, has just been shot from a cannon towards the Czech Republic to take the reins at Skoda, as the former CEO there has been put in charge of a unifed Volkswagen for Canada, North America and Mexico. This means a new Porsche sales and marketing chief, so Blume will have former Porsche Cars North America boss, Detlev von Platen, to help sell whatever he produces.
Von Platen has seven years with Porsche to his name, so the two biggest jobs on the Porsche board can barely claim double figures in time with the badge between them. Cayenne is already on its way to production in Bratislava (Slovakia) alongside Audi Q7 and VW Touareg and, if Audi A3s can be made down in Spain with minimal impact on sales, where else might Porsches be bolted together? Interesting.