Wolfgang Durheimer Out as Head of Audi R&D in Major Shakeup


  • Audi R8 E-tron Picture

    Audi R8 E-tron Picture

    The Audi R8 E-tron did not make it into production as anticipated under Wolfgang Durheimer's watch. | June 21, 2013

2 Photos

Just the Facts:
  • Audi AG confirmed on Friday that it has replaced Wolfgang Durheimer, who pulled the plug on the Audi R8 E-tron project, as head of technical development.
  • Durheimer will be replaced by Ulrich Hackenberg, who will lead technical development at Audi AG and be responsible for the technical development of all Volkswagen Group brands, the automaker said.
  • Durheimer will "take on other management responsibilities within the Volkswagen Group," according to the company.

INGOLSTADT, Germany — Audi AG confirmed on Friday that it has replaced Wolfgang Durheimer, who pulled the plug on the Audi R8 E-tron project, as head of technical development.

Durheimer will be replaced by Ulrich Hackenberg.

Hackenberg will lead technical development at Audi AG and be responsible for the technical development of all Volkswagen Group brands, the automaker said. Hackenberg is the father of Volkswagen's sweeping modular platform strategy, which is widely held up as a model for the global auto industry.

Durheimer will "take on other management responsibilities within the Volkswagen Group," according to the company.

The move portends changes with Audi — and Volkswagen's — electric mobility strategy and comes just weeks after Audi confirmed that its R8 E-tron electric sports car will not make it to production. Audi in late May said it was pulling the plug on the R8 E-tron due to the high cost of batteries and high-voltage components, among other factors.

An Audi of America spokesman told Edmunds at the time that the automaker is "moving more toward a plug-in hybrid direction than a battery electric for the immediate future."

The R8 E-tron was displayed at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, with a predecessor — the original E-tron — first unveiled in Frankfurt in 2009.

Durheimer, a Fulbright scholar, had been head of Audi R&D since September 2012.

"We are delighted that Ulrich Hackenberg, an outstanding engineer and Audi expert, is returning to our brand, and he will also be responsible for the technical development of all the car brands within the Volkswagen Group," said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler in a statement. "This strengthens the role of our brand within the overall group."

Edmunds says: Will this major management move mean that Audi will reverse course and embrace battery-electric cars again?

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