As President of Audi China, Wüst's responsibilities go far beyond marketing and sales to "focus on partnerships, brand management, products and dealers. She will also enhance functions and operational opportunities in other core businesses, including technology development, digitisation and networking……Audi should not only maintain the joint venture with FAW, but also "re-joint venture" to open up the second “battle field”. If this "partnership" can be handled well, it will be regarded as a miracle！
There seems to be a "pattern" in the tenure of Audi's President in China. The first one, Dietmar Voggenreiter, worked for nine years；His second, Joachim Wedler, served for three years. The worst part is the third term, Thomas Owsianski is just nine months……We believe that the fourth President of Audi China - Wüst will not only have a few months. So, how can Wüst accomplish in this highly anticipated position?
Gaby-luise Wüst replaced Thomas Owsianski as President of Audi China last Monday (July 1), according to Audi China.
Gaby-Luise Wüst , the fourth Audi China President
For Thomas Owsianski became Audi's new President in China just on Oct. 1 last year , as soon as the personnel change was released, it was questioned by people in the industry. "Audi China's sudden change of leadership in just nine months is a sign of the challenges it is facing", an industry expert said regretfully, "The 're-joint venture' event of Audi three years ago directly triggered a huge change in the pattern of China's premium car market. Audi has gone from being far ahead to being neck and neck with Mercedes Benz and BMW. Audi has lost nearly all of its three-decades lead in the Chinese market , and damaged the brand itself.”
Audi China President — An almost non-existent
The "Audi China President" has always been an almost non-existent presence.
As the first President of Audi China, Dietmar Voggenreiter ,who joined Audi in 2002 and took charge of Audi's business development in China since 2007 ; From 2009 to 2015, he became the first general manager of Audi (China) enterprise management co., LTD.
In July 2015, Voggenreiter was about to step down and transferred back to his headquarters in Germany. At the time, Audi put it roughly this way: in his nearly nine-year tenure since 2007, when Dr. Voggenreiter took over Audi's China operations, the Audi brand has seen a sevenfold increase in annual deliveries in the Chinese market. In 2014, Audi sold 575,000 cars in China. Of the 3 million vehicles sold, 2.5 million were sold during his tenure.
Since then, Voggenreiter , who has been promoted to Audi global marketing and sales director, has on various occasions, relishes the fact that he has been working in China for nine years and that Audi has "gone from 60,000 to 600,000 cars" in the Chinese market.
However, the fact is that since January 2006, before Mr. Feng took charge of China affairs, both shareholders have established the Audi business division under FAW-Volkswagen, which is relatively independent in terms of finance and sales, and is responsible for the sales of domestic and imported Audi cars and the brand construction of Audi.
In terms of personnel, the foreign side is Werner Eichhorn ，known as "Audi's best salesman in the world”——who was responsible for sales in European market (except Germany) and Chinese market——to be the head of Audi's business division. In return, China has sent its best marketing team.
At the time, it was reported that Eichhorn and his Chinese partner had "basically spun off the main Audi operations in China, which were run by Audi China, into the joint venture. But without a specific business, audi China is almost an empty shell." It was also reported that during this period, Voggenreiter repeatedly asked FAW-Volkswagen's Audi division to renegotiate some issues, and envisaged "transferring the import of Audi cars, after-sales service and some purchasing rights to Audi China", but all the requirements were "strongly opposed"..
Thus, Audi's Chinese President has little to do with its rapid growth in the Chinese market since 2006. If there must be some "Relationship", it will be the efforts of Eichhorn and its Chinese partners that made the Chinese market upgraded from the fourth largest market of Audi in the world to the first largest market，as well as to support Dr. Voggenreiter to become a member of Audi's board of directors and responsible for marketing and sales.
Subsequent events have also proved that. At the end of August 2017, Audi announced the biggest management reshuffle in years, with the firing of four directors, including Voggenreiter. At the time, Voggenreiter was accused of "failing to deal well with Chinese dealers and resigned"; People familiar with the situation said that Voggenreiter had nothing to do with dealers in China! It was only after he became a director that many dealers learned that he had worked in China. More opinions hold that Voggenreiter, as a director in charge of marketing and sales, especially in charge of the Chinese market, should be more responsible for his active promotion of the so-called “re-joint venture", and pay for Audi’s being overtaken by Mercedes-Benz and BMW in China.
Joachim Wedler, Mr Feng's successor, despite his previous role as head of Audi's product line strategy , and having experience at companies such as FAW-Volkswagen, has remained a “recluse” as President of Audi China. Apart from appearing on behalf of the Audi brand at major events, he rarely even met the media alone during his three-year tenure.
Thomas Owsianski, former head of Audi China, stepped down after just nine months
Thomas Owsianski took over as President of Audi China in October last year, just as Wedler was retiring. Owsianski joined Volkswagen group in 2012 and became the head of Skoda's global Marketing Department; From 2014 to 2016, he served as the executive director of Skoda brand marketing of Shanghai Volkswagen automobile co., LTD., responsible for the marketing and sales of Skoda brand in China.
This time, after only 9 months, Owsianski stepped down as president of Audi China, and his presence as president of Audi China even was not felt.
Gaby-Luise Wüst's unbearable pressure
"Gaby-Luise Wüst is currently in charge of Audi's sales in China and Hong Kong, as well as Audi's joint venture in China," said the official statement on the change. "As President of Audi China, Wüst will focus on partnerships, brand management, products and dealers. She will also enhance functions and operational opportunities in other core businesses, including technology development, digitisation and networking.
Only by seeing this , can one understand why Owsianski left after nine months in office. Clearly, this is an unusual and almost impossible request for an "Audi China President." It is said that "monks from afar can recite sutras”, can Gaby-Luise Wüst, who has worked in BMW and Infiniti in China, be competent?
Wüst began her career at BMW group, from 2003 to 2011, she worked in Beijing and responsible for the market access and growth strategy of BMW in China. From 2012 to 2014, she was responsible for the Asia-Pacific business of MINI brand. From 2014 to 2018, she was in Hong Kong and served as the global chief operating officer of Infiniti and then in Yokohama as the global head of sales and operations of Nissan.
In April 2018, Wüst became the head of sales of Audi in China and Hong Kong. In December 2018, she started her new role as product project manager for Audi in China.
A little attention can be found, Wüst's professional skills and strengths or marketing and sales. When she joined Audi, she immediately invited former BMW and Infiniti colleagues Lu Yi and former BMW colleague Zhu Liwei to join her.
As President of Audi China, Wüst's responsibilities go far beyond marketing and sales to "focus on partnerships, brand management, products and dealers. She will also enhance functions and operational opportunities in other core businesses, including technology development, digitisation and networking……In the words of Alexander Seitz, Audi director in charge of China, "In the future，she will help Audi expand its business in China." Audi should not only maintain the joint venture with FAW, but also "re-joint venture" to open up the second “battle field”. If this "partnership" can be handled well, it will be regarded as a miracle！
It is not the author's imagination or invention to say that Wüst is a "lady catcher". As early as January 2016, when the then general manager of Dongfeng Infiniti and Infiniti China Daniel Kirchert resigned, Infiniti announced that Gaby-Luise Wüst, chief operating officer, was authorized to take charge of the management of Dongfeng Infiniti and Infiniti China. From January 27 to take over from Daniel Kirchert, to the year on April 8, Lu Yi as Dongfeng Infiniti and Infiniti China general manager, Wüst has been a "lady catcher” for fully two months and 12 days .
As we write, we note that there seems to be a "pattern" in the tenure of Audi's President in China. The first one, Dietmar Voggenreiter, worked for nine years；His second, Joachim Wedler, served for three years. The worst part is the third term, Thomas Owsianski is just nine months……We believe that the fourth President of Audi China — Wüst will not only have a few months. So, how much can Wüst accomplish in this highly anticipated position?（经济日报-中国经济网记者 张宇星 王跃跃/翻译 张羽）
With internal and external stresses, what efforts has Audi made in China?