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Management changes ‘disruptive’

The automotive industry is facing “dramatic and disruptive changes”, according to Chris Donkin, European managing partner at Courland Automotive Practice.

“The scale and speed of that change has led to some major shifts in company strategy – some proactive, most reactive. This more than anything else is driving unprecedented levels of executive change,” he says.

Donkin’s comments relate to imminent management changes at Volkswagen, Fiat and PSA Peugeot Citroën.

VW chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder leaves at the end of 2006, six months after the carmaker extended his contract until 2012. His successor is Martin Winterkorn, currently head of Audi.

It follows rumours of a long-standing rift between Pischetsrieder and Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen chairman.

PSA Peugeot Citroën announced Christian Streiff will succeed retiring CEO Jean-Martin Folz. Controversially, Streiff resigned after 99 days in his last role as head of Airbus.

At Fiat, Sergio Marchionne announced he’ll step down as head of the car unit to concentrate on his role as CEO of the Fiat Group.

“The spate of executive changes announced last week is reflective of a wider industry issue. “Within the last two years we have seen a change of CEO at every significant European manufacturer, with only a handful of those as part of a managed transition process,” concludes Donkin.

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