Opel CEO Neumann steps down, is tipped to take lead role at Audi

Karl-Thomas Neumann

Karl-Thomas Neumann

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann confirmed on Monday he is stepping down. He will remain a member of the board until after General Motors’ sale of Opel to French auto giant PSA Group is completed. The sale was announced in March and is expected to close in the coming months.

Neumann’s replacement at Opel has been revealed as Michael Lohscheller. He was previously Opel’s CFO.

Neumann’s departure from Opel was reported on Saturday by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Without citing a source, the newspaper said Neumann’s departure was partly due to concerns that PSA Group is undervaluing the importance of electric cars.

Neumann, who was hired by GM in 2013 to oversee Opel’s turnaround, is a strong proponent of electric cars. It was even rumored that he wanted to transform Opel into an electric car brand.

Reuters on Sunday, citing its own source, reported that another reason for Neumann’s departure from Opel is so he can take up a senior role at the Volkswagen Group—possibly as CEO of Audi. Neumann worked for the VW Group prior to joining Opel; he was in charge of the Volkswagen brand’s operations in China but was demoted in a management reshuffle.

Current Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has come under fire due to the discovery in Europe of additional vehicles, this time A7 and A8 models, that emit more than the allowable level of nitrogen oxides. Germany’s transport authority, the KBA, said the vehicles used defeat device software to hide emissions from regulators.

Stadler also continues to face pressure from previous investigations regarding the diesel scandal by the Munich and Braunschweig public prosecutors’ offices in Germany.

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