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Willis to quit as Volkswagen Group UK MD

Willis to quit as Volkswagen Group UK MD

Volkswagen Group UK managing director Paul Willis is expected to leave the position before the end of the year for a new overseas role.

Mr Willis, told AM Online (6 November) said that his decision to leave his post with the German car manufacturer was unrelated to the pressures of the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal.

Mr Willis headed up the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand between February 2000 and 2008 and worked as the managing director of Volkswagen Group Ireland before replacing Paul Willcox as the Group’s UK managing director.

He told AM Online said that he was sad to be leaving but had been offered a new opportunity outside the UK which he described as “off the scale”, which he was “unable to turn down”.

While Mr Willis would not reveal the identity of his new employer, he said: “It is a large conglomerate outside the UK with automotive interests.”

He added: “My new role is with a firm that is much more entrepreneurial than being an importer. That’s something I’ve always found interesting and I’ll be both a board member and responsible for the entire value chain.”

The Volkswagen Group UK managing director said that, having turned 59 last week, the decision to leave the German manufacturer he has been a part of for 18 years was not an easy one and was taken after conference with his wife and grown-up son.

Asked whether the challenges faced in the wake of the dieselgate scandal of September 2015 had played a part in his decision to leave, he said: “It’s absolutely the opposite. I’m very proud of the fact that since 2015 all our volumes and performance has improved and the very difficult situation we went through I was determined to support and help the company.

“A number of other people did leave the company. I didn’t. I think it was a moral thing to help my colleagues out of a hole.”

However he said there was no defence for the use of diesel emissions test defeat devices. He said:  “With regard to dieselgate, one can’t defend people who break the law and those that did that in the company need to face the consequences of their actions.

“From my point of view I did my best in terms of trying to turn things around for the company and I think the public now understand the situation. The volumes being achieved across all our brands’ retail networks show that that is the case.”

A spokesman for Volkswagen Group UK said that no timescale had yet been set for Mr Willis’ departure.

Mr Willis said that the end of the year would be a natural time for him to leave his current post but added that he would be willing to stay on to facilitate the transition to a new UK Group managing director.