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Volkswagen is hoping to replicate the success it has seen at Audi of America with the appointment of a new CEO at Volkswagen Group of America.
Scott Keogh, who has served as president of Audi's U.S. division since June of 2012, will become CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America starting Nov. 1. He will replace Hinrich Woebcken, who has overseen VW's North American operations for the last two and a half years.
For Volkswagen, the move is the latest effort to grow a brand that has struggled in the U.S. for a variety of reasons over the last 20 years. Between 2000 and 2014, the German automaker lagged in the U.S. due to a lack of sport utility and crossover models, which became more popular with American buyers. Sales plunged after 2014 when the company admitted to rigging the emissions on diesel vehicles.
The low point for the brand came in September 2015 when Volkswagen of America President Michael Horn took the stage at an event in New York and addressed the scandal saying, "We totally screwed up." By early 2016, Horn had resigned and Woebcken replaced him as head of VW in the U.S.. While he and Volkswagen have stabilized the brand, it has a less than 2 percent market share in the U.S.
For Keogh, the challenge is pushing the German brand to do more in the world's second largest auto market. VW's U.S. sales were up 5.2 percent last year while the market overall was down 1.8 percent.
The brand is starting to roll out SUVs and crossovers, which should help sales, but Keogh knows VW can go further. Under his leadership, Audi's U.S. sales climbed 62 percent.
"Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America," said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG.
Woebcken will remain with Volkswagen as a consultant. Meanwhile, Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Bentley Motors, Inc. Americas will move into Keogh's position running Audi of America.