Stephan Winkelmann Named CEO Of Audi’s Quattro GmbH
Former Lambo CEO will take the reigns of Audi’s performance divisionby Kirby Garlitos, on
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann has officially been named the new chief executive of Audi’s Quattro GmbH. Former Scuderia Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali will take his place as the new CEO of the Italian supercar brand.
While there is a bit of shock surrounding this news, rumors of this management shakeup have been floating around since December 2015. Winkelmann, who has been with Lamborghini since 2005 and is largely credited for the company’s massive growth over the past decade, will take the reigns from incumbent Quattro boss Heinz Hollerweger, who announced his retirement from his post after a stellar career with Audi spanning 40 years.
A big part of Winkelmann’s new responsibilities as Quattro GmbH CEO is to see to it that Audi’s performance division will become more competitive against its chief rivals, namely BMW’s M Division and Mercedes-Benz’s counterpart, AMG. Now that he’s at the helm of Quattro, he’ll be in charge of development of Audi’s R and RS production models, as well as the Audi Exclusive customization service, and the Audi Sport customer racing program.
As successful as he has been at Lamborghini, Winkelmann will still have enormous shoes to fill at Quattro, largely because of the work put in by his predecessor. Hollerweger only assumed the role of Quattro CEO in 2014, but in that short time, he is credited for the subsidiary’s sharp sales increase in 2015. Under his watch, Quattro’s sales figures in 2015 amounted to over 17,000 sold units, an increase of 13 percent compared to its total the year before. Hollerweger was also instrumental in the development of R8 e-tron to go with his contributions in the expansion and diversification of Audi Sport.
For his part, Winkelmann is expected to lead the division to new and more successful heights. It’s a role that he’s had experience with after spending the past 11 years doing the same thing for Lamborghini. As far as finding a suitable replacement for Hollerweger goes, nabbing Stephan Winkelmann from Lambo is a great hire for Quattro GmbH.
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Why it matters
The rumors pertaining to this management shuffle was first addressed by my colleague Ciprian back in December 2015. At that time, I remembered thinking how ironic it would be for Stefano Domenicali to take the reins of Lamborghini after being so visible in his role as the team principal of Ferrari’s Formula One team. What I didn’t think about as much was Winkelmann’s move to Quattro GmbH.
On the one hand, the announcement still caught me by surprise, but after spending some time thinking about what Winkelmann can do with Quattro, the more convinced I was that this was a great move by Volskwagen Group. I’ve been a fan of Winkelmann for years after witnessing what he was able to accomplish with Lamborghini. It may seem ages ago now, but 11 years ago was just 2005. At that time, Lamborghini was already a big deal, although not as big as it is now.
Winkelmann deserves a lot of the credit for that. Not only was he the driving force in recognizing the need to make substantial investments in the company, but he used the resources he received to steer the company towards becoming one of the world’s most recognizable supercar brands. During his time as Lambo CEO, he helped the company become a pioneer in automotive lightweight construction and carbon fiber technologies.
He also pushed for the expansion of the company’s sales organization, resulting in the tripling of Lamborghini dealerships all over the world. Most of all, he managed to make Lamborghini one of the most sought-after supercar brands in the business. The proof is in the pudding as the company achieved a banner sales year when it sold a record 3,245 units in 2015.
It’s safe to say that Lamborghini is in a far better place today than it was back in 2005. Sales are pushing for record figures and the company has even expanded its lineup to include a high-performance SUV that we refer to as the Urus. It’s the first time that Lamborghini will have three series production models at the same time. Stephan Winkelmann deserves the lion’s share of credit for making that happen.
I know I said that he’s got some big shoes to fill taking over Heinz Hollerweger’s job as CEO of Quattro GmbH. But let’s not forget that Stefano Domenicali has just as difficult a job succeeding Winkelmann in Lamborghini.
Read our full review on the Audi R8 here.