Volkswagen to pump in $66 billion in major electric vehicle push; ropes in new head for Audi

Markus Duesmann new Audi CEO
Markus Duesmann, board member of German luxury carmaker BMW attends the company's annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

A lot is happening at Volkswagen. In a major announcement made on Friday, the German automaker said that it has appointed former BMW executive Markus Duesmann to head Audi brand. Duesmann will join as Volkswagen Group's board member and will be responsible for research, besides being the chief executive of Audi.

Duesmann, who is an expert in procurement and engine development, will assume the new role from April 1, 2020, following the departure of current Audi head Bram Schot by the end of March 2020.

Alongside Duesmann's appointment, the German car giant also announced that it will pump in $66 billion by 2024 in a bid to switch to electric and hybrid vehicles. The race to capture the electric vehicle market is heating up, with carmakers across the world increasingly shifting focus to electric vehicles.

Audi had long been on the lookout for clean engine expertise to reinvent its Audi brand, particularly after the company got embroiled in the emission test scandal. "Markus Duesmann will do everything to unlock the huge potential of the Audi brand," said Volkswagen Group Chief Executive Herbert Diess on Friday.

As the new chief executive of Audi, Duesmann will look into resurrecting the brands slogan 'Vorsprung Durch Technik', which means 'advertisement through technology', especially after Audi had to fire a large number of senior engineers along with its long-serving CEO following the 2015 diesel-cheating scandal.

The Bavaria-based Audi is also a major research brand within Volkswagen, setting standards in an array of auto and aero dynamics technology. However, the brands image got tarnished after it came to light that the engine management system used to manipulate the emission tests were developed by Audi engineers. Bram Schot, who was a sales expert, was appointed the interim CEO but the brand struggled to revive its past glory under his leadership.

Volkswagen firing on all cylinders

Volkswagen to cut 30,000 jobs to save money for electric, self driving projects
The Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze is presented during the Sao Paulo International Motor Show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Pressure has been mounting on Volkswagen for the past few years. While it has still making efforts to revive the image of its luxury brand Audi, increasing pressure to compete in the electric vehicle segment has made the carmaker pump in billions of dollars.

The company's decision on Friday of ploughing $66 billion in electric vehicles by 2024 is an increase of $16 billion from its earlier made announcement.

Per a plan approved by it board, the company will introduce around 75 all-electric models and 60 hybrid vehicles over a time frame of 10 years. The company also aims to sell 26 million all-electric vehicles over the next ten years, besides six million hybrid vehicles.

Volkswagen expects that the sale of these vehicles will also help it in meeting European carbon dioxide (CO2) emission targets. That, however, won't be that easy given the global slowdown and declining sales of cars in the United States and China, the two biggest car markets in the world.