Markus Duesmann is the second person to fill the top role at Audi after CEO Rupert Stadler was fired following the ‘dieselgate’ scandal. Picture: REUTERS
Markus Duesmann is the second person to fill the top role at Audi after CEO Rupert Stadler was fired following the ‘dieselgate’ scandal. Picture: REUTERS

Volkswagen (VW) has installed former BMW executive Markus Duesmann to re-invent Audi after the German premium brand lost key engineering know-how and influence in the wake of the 2015 diesel-cheating scandal.

Duesmann will become CEO of Audi as well as take on board-level responsibility for research and development (R&D) at VW Group on April 1 2020, the Wolfsburg-based multi-brand group said. Duesmann’s job will include injecting new meaning into the company’s advertising slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik”, or “Advancement through Technology”, after Audi fired a raft of senior engineers in the wake of “dieselgate”.

“Duesmann will do everything to unlock the huge potential of the Audi brand,” VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said at a press conference in Wolfsburg last Friday.

Audi, based in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, was a major R&D hub within VW, setting standards in aerodynamic efficiency, lightweight aluminium construction, dual-clutch gearbox technology, and four-wheel drive systems. But the premium brand struggled after it was discovered that engine management software, used to manipulate exhaust emissions tests at VW, was designed by Audi engineers, leading to the firing of engineering chiefs and its long-term CEO.

After Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was dismissed, Audi installed a sales expert Bram Schot as interim CEO, and the brand struggled to redefine Vorsprung durch Technik.

“We need to partly refine the Vorsprung. We are working on it,” Audi’s sales chief Hildegard Wortmann told Reuters at the Frankfurt car show in September. Audi’s current head of research and development Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler said, “We don’t need little Vorsprung stories, we need real Vorsprung stories.” 

The electric Audi e-tron, as well as fuel-cell technology, are two pillars on which Audi can resurrect its brand claim, Rothenpieler said.

Mazda3 wins Women’s World Car of the Year

The Mazda3 has been named “Supreme Winner” of the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year awards. In addition to taking the top award, the car also won Women’s World Family Car of the Year.

Mazda3 gets the Women’s World Car of the Year nod. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mazda3 gets the Women’s World Car of the Year nod. Picture: SUPPLIED

Established in 2010, Women’s World Car of the Year is voted on by a panel of female judges from more than 30 countries who vote according to criteria women use when buying a car.

The Mazda3 adopts a matured Kodo design language that aims to embody the essence of Japanese aesthetics.

The seventh-generation Mazda3 was launched in SA in July, available in hatchback and sedan derivatives, in 1.5l and 2.0l petrol versions.

Boasting improved refinement with additional safety and technology, the Japanese-sourced vehicle has moved slightly  upmarket and has price tags to match. The new 12-model range sells for between R359,900 and R474,000.

It’s part of the brand’s strategy to position itself as a more premium offering than traditional rivals such as the VW Golf and Hyundai i30, and move itself more into the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series realm.

Kia’s David Sieff joins RentMyRide team

RentMyRide — the SA peer-to-peer vehicle rental platform — is gearing up for growth after the group appointed David Sieff, a marketing and automotive industry expert, as its COO.

David Sieff moves from Kia to RentMyRide. Picture: SUPPLIED
David Sieff moves from Kia to RentMyRide. Picture: SUPPLIED

This coincides with the conclusion of an R8m funding round from local and international investors.

Sieff joins RentMyRide after spending close to a decade with Kia Motors SA. Prior to that, he gained experience with technology companies such as Microsoft and Dimension Data. He holds an MBA from the Wits Business School.

“I will start by assisting the large vehicle fleet owners in listing their vehicles on the platform as part of the recently introduced professional fleet owner service,” says Sieff.

This service allows companies and individuals with more than one vehicle to manage their own small fleet of rental vehicles on the platform.

 “We have seen entrepreneurs and fleet owners, such as vehicle dealers with slow-moving, ageing stock, starting to use RentMyRide to make money from their vehicles, especially during periods when they are standing still,” said Sebastian Brokmann, CEO of RentMyRide. “Globally, there is a shift towards a pay-per-use model. The younger generation is more au fait with services such as Uber and, in the US and Europe, rental services such as Turo and SnappCar. With that in mind, it is no surprise that RentMyRide is rapidly gaining momentum in SA.” 

The company plans to develop and launch a dedicated app for both iPhone and Android platforms.

Brokmann says that RentMyRide has one of the most comprehensive background checking processes of its kind, as it checks the credit and employment history of both the vehicle owner and the person interested in renting the vehicle.

Similarly, the learning algorithm considers location, vehicle age and a host of other metrics to best match interested vehicle renters with the right vehicles.

RentMyRide has, since inception, facilitated more than 1,500 vehicle rentals between vehicle owners and interested renters. The service is currently available in Bloemfontein, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.