Volkswagen Group Australia has appointed Paul Sansom to the role of Managing Director, effective January 1, 2022, succeeding Michael Bartsch, who will shortly return to Volkswagen of America.
Currently Managing Director of Audi Australia and Chairman of the Audi Foundation, Sansom (above) will combine the role of Volkswagen Group Australia Managing Director with continued leadership of the Audi brand until a successor has been found.
Bartsch led Volkswagen Group Australia since 2015, in addition to directing Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles, while overseeing Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, SKODA and the introduction of the new Barcelona-based CUPRA brand.
“Michael has been a tremendous asset to Volkswagen Group Australia over the past six years,” said Wolf-Stefan Specht, Head of Group Importer Steering at Volkswagen AG.
“He and his team have helped to establish Volkswagen Group Australia as the largest European automotive importer in the country, steering the company to arrive in the strong position it is in today. Paul will lead the larger Volkswagen Group Australia with all the experience and deep insight gained in his almost 20 years with the Volkswagen Group.”
Bartsch, whose previous roles include that of Executive Vice President and COO of Porsche Cars North America and Vice President, Infiniti Americas, paid tribute to the Volkswagen Group Australia team.
“It has been a privilege to lead such an extraordinary team over the past six years,” said Bartsch. “We have experienced our share of challenges and headwinds during that time, but we have never lost sight of the trust that our customers place in our brands.
“Our collective growth over that period is a mark of the significant progress our brands have made in Australia, and I am pleased to leave the next leg of their successful journey in Paul’s very capable hands.”
Sansom thanked his predecessor and welcomed the challenge of leading the new Volkswagen Group Australia from 2022.
“Next year may prove to be the most important year in the history of Volkswagen Group Australia, and it is testament to Michael’s leadership that the company should be so well-positioned to play a leading role in shaping the future of mobility in this country,” said Sansom.
“The now five brands of Volkswagen Group Australia all have their own unique identity and cater for their own distinct customer groups. The diversity of their expertise across the majority of market segments provides Volkswagen Group Australia with an unrivalled opportunity to appeal to more new and existing customers than any other competitor.”
Combined, the Volkswagen Group Australia national sales company will have more than 180 dealers nationwide.
Sansom’s automotive career commenced in 2001 as Jaguar’s National Sales Manager in the UK. He joined the Volkswagen Group in 2003, first as a Regional Brand Manager for Volkswagen, then VW’s Product and Planning Manager. In 2006, he moved across to Audi where he held the role of After Sales and Customer Service Director, before becoming the Sales Director. Audi became the UK’s best-selling premium brand in that period.
From December 1, Michal Szaniecki assumes the role of Brand Director of Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles.
Szaniecki comes to Volkswagen Group Australia from his native Poland where he has been Director of SEAT and CUPRA, before which he was Volkswagen’s Senior Marketing Manager in that country. He joined the Volkswagen Group in 2016, prior to which he worked with such global brands as Nivea and Kraft.
As of January 1, Volkswagen Group Australia’s brand management structure is:
Volkswagen Group Australia/Audi Managing Director: Paul Sansom
Director Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles: Michal Szaniecki
Director Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles: Ryan Davies
Director SKODA: Michael Irmer
Director CUPRA: Ben Wilks