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Oliver Blume will become the new CEO of the Volkswagen Group in September. From China.Table’s perspective, this is an exciting decision. Blume graduated from the renowned Tongji University in Shanghai in 2001. This brings a true China expert to the top of a DAX company. Since several mistakes were made by his predecessor on the Chinese market, we believe that this appointment is worth analyzing. Especially in the procurement of batteries, Blume had a luckier hand as Porsche boss than Herbert Diess at VW, writes Felix Lee.
Not only the Germans love Aldi. Chinese customers do, too. But for different reasons. While Germans favor Aldi for their cheap prices, the supermarket chain is considered real classy in the Far East. Fine European wines are offered on wooden shelves. The concept is also doing surprisingly well in the challenging Chinese retail market and is a reason for the group to quickly open more stores in the future. But the venture remains risky for the time being, warns our Beijing team. New lockdowns could cut off customers’ access to the stores at any time.
Oliver Blume’s success is decided in China
Right in the middle of the factory-wide vacation in Wolfsburg, the news about the change of leadership at Volkswagen dropped on late Friday afternoon. For the previous VW CEO Herbert Diess, at least according to VW circles, it came as a shock. He was well aware that some employees were upset with him and that he still had not solved some crucial problems. But the decision to remove him from his position came without warning.
With Oliver Blume as his successor, the Supervisory Board is now counting on someone with direct China expertise. This is no coincidence. Almost all of the Group’s problems and construction sites are currently directly or indirectly related to the large market in the Far East:
- The dependence on one single sales market, which since the outbreak of the Ukraine war has turned from a diffuse management problem into a geopolitical Achilles’ heel for Germany.
- The matter of sourcing important parts such as semiconductor elements and, above all, battery cells. The batteries produced by the Group in its new factory in Salzgitter, for example, are also based on cells from the Chinese supplier Wuxi Lead.
- The procurement of raw materials for the production of key components – China dominates here as well (China.Table reported).
- The switch of engine types to carbon-neutral energy sources as far as possible – here, China is also leading the pack.
According to company information, Blume earned his Ph.D. in 2001 at the College of Automotive Engineering at the renowned Tongji University in Shanghai. Tongji is not just any university. It is one of the top institutions in the People’s Republic. It scores well above German universities in international rankings. Founded in 1907 as a German university for Chinese in Shanghai, it is one of the oldest of China’s modern educational institutions. The name Tongji inspires awe.