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Bentley appoints new CEO, poached from Porsche

Mon, 29 Nov 2010

Bentley has announced the appointment of Wolfgang Dürheimer as its new chairman and chief executive officer. He will also head up Bugatti, as did predecessor, Franz-Josef Paefgen.

Dürheimer, who joins Bentley from Porsche where he headed the research and development team, will start his new role at Crewe on 1 February 2011.

In a major job shuffle at the top of the Volkswagen Group, the new technology boss at Porsche is Wolfgang Hatz, a high-flying VW powertrain engineer. Interestingly, both appointments were tipped by CAR Magazine's Insider column at the Paris motor show (CAR, November 2010, p34).

Franz-Josef Paefgen is retiring after more than eight years in charge. He has agreed to remain in an advisory capacity to Bentley and as a consultant to the Volkswagen Group.

Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn described Wolfgang Dürheimer as someone who 'personifies the outstanding technical competency of Porsche'.

It's certainly a sign that Winterkorn is shaking things up at the VW Group, as it remoulds itself to accommodate Porsche and adapt to the challenge of making VW the world's biggest car maker by 2018.

Dürheimer is the man who's overseen much of Porsche's recent technology breakthroughs, including its hybrid race cars and the 918 Spyder concept car. The latter will make production in 2013, making it one of the cleanest supercars in the world.

Speaking about his new role, Dürheimer said: 'I am flattered by the trust put in me by the Volkswagen Group. To take charge of a Company such as Bentley is a significant responsibility.

'The company has such an illustrious history and the developments made over the past few years have been outstanding.'

It'll be interesting to see if Dürheimer brings over some of his hybrid expertise to Bentley, where the most significant downsizing to date has been the adoption of a V8 petrol instead of a W12 in the new Conti GT.

By Richard Jones