Volkswagen aims to strengthen its position in China this year. The German automaker recently announced changes to its Board of Management to streamline digital tech development and improve its position in China.
VW recently announced that former Board of Management member Thomas Ulbrich will take over as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in China by April 1, 2024. Ulbrich proved his mettle as head of Volkswagen’s New Mobility division. In his new position, Ullrich will tackle the challenges Volkswagen is facing in the largest auto market worldwide: China.
“Thomas Ulbrich, one of our top development and software experts, will now continue to advance the localization and networking of our Group’s development activities in the region. Ulbrich has exceptional expertise in important future technologies and excellent connections in the company and the China region.
“One of his priorities will therefore be to further strengthen the collaboration with our joint venture companies FAW-Volkswagen, SAIC Volkswagen and Volkswagen Anhui. I firmly believe that this will be an important source of impetus in our transformation to smart e-mobility,” said Ralf Brandstätter, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG for the China region and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
According to the Shanghai consultancy Automobility, the market share of foreign auto brands in China fell to about 44% by December 2023. In 2020, foreign auto brands held a 64% market share. However, local Chinese consumers have started to buy more domestically-made electric vehicles, often offering advanced digital technology.
“With the exception of Tesla, foreign brands were caught flat-footed as they did not anticipate the market shift [to EVs] and are rapidly losing relevance,” said Bill Russo, the former head of Chrysler in China and founder of Automobility.
As per Financial Times, Volkswagen’s sales in China dropped by 8.7% in 2023 to 2.1 million. The German automaker appears to be struggling to grow in the Chinese auto market as local car makers take up more market share. VW’s recent leadership changes might improve the company’s standing in China and kick-start regional growth.