Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE said Herbert Diess will take over from Matthias Mueller as chief executive, adding fresh impetus to its efforts to slim down and reorganise the way its 12 brands are managed.
Senior works council members past year had their salaries cut and bonuses suspended after public prosecutors investigated alleged overpayments at the carmaker, a move that labor leaders are blaming on Blessing, one source said.
The sprawling corporate network of Volkswagen now employs more than 600,000 staff across the world and includes the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley, as well as a truck producers MAN and Scania.
But Diess, a lanky, cool-headed Bavarian, never got ruffled and ultimately secured a landmark deal that paved the way to cut as many as 30,000 jobs and save 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 billion).
The management shake-up signals VW's desire to move forward from the emissions scandal and revive its financial fortunes.
Europe's biggest automaker has, particularly since its 2015 emissions scandal, been looking to become more focused and efficient by, for example, spinning off its trucks business, creating a premium cars unit or selling motorcycle brand Ducati. Amid opposition from labour leaders, he failed to sell motorbike maker Ducati a year ago.
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"It is unclear how soon Diess, a former BMW executive who joined VW in July 2015 and has clashed with the company's labor leaders, might replace Mueller".
That plan comes as rivals, including Fiat Chrysler and Daimler, consider spin-offs or legally separate divisions to boost their share prices and raise cash to fund development of electric and self-driving cars.
On Tuesday, Mueller indicated his "basic willingness to play a part" in possible changes in the firm's leadership after a VW press release announced that the company was mulling changes within its top management echelons. The company said this would speed up decision-making. His contract is due to run until 2020.
Mueller "has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group", VW said in a statement.
VW brand chief Herbert Diess presented the I.D. Buzz Concept vehicle in Detroit on Monday.
"There have been historic episodes where cost cutters have been brought in to sort out the namesake VW brand, but who then leave or are squeezed out before their work is really done", Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a note.