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March 3, 2014 1:45 AM, EST

VW Hires Renschler to Run Truck Unit; Bids $9.2 Bln. for Remainder of Scania

By Michael G. Malloy, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the March 3 print edition of Transport Topics.

Volkswagen AG appears to be setting itself up as a major player in the world truck market after announcing that it has made an offer to buy the remainder of Swedish truck maker Scania AB for $9.2 billion and has hired Andreas Renschler to oversee global truck operations.

Renschler was the former chief of Daimler AG’s truck brands, which include Freightliner and Western Star in North America. He held the position for a decade through last April, when he moved to lead Mercedes-Benz, Daimler’s luxury car and van operation.

He was succeeded at the truck unit by Wolfgang Bernhard, with whom he had swapped positions  at Daimler.

But Renschler, 55, left Daimler abruptly in January after 25 years with the company.

He will begin with Volkswagen next February, after his noncompete agreement expires with Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler.

“We are very pleased we have been able to recruit Mr. Renschler to join our company,” Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech said in a Feb. 21 statement.

He said Volkswagen found “the ideal successor” to Leif Östling, 68, who came to Volkswagen from Scania in 2012 and is scheduled to retire next year.

Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, last year took complete control of Munich-based truck maker MAN SE, which sells heavy-duty trucks in Europe and South America.

“Commercial vehicles is a highly attractive and important strategic business area for Volkswagen,” the company said in a statement.

The “next logical and consistent step . . . is to strengthen the operational integration between Scania, MAN and Volkswagen to create a world-class commercial vehicles group [which] will enable the members of the Volkswagen Group to fully share know-how and entirely realize synergies to deliver strong economies of scale,” the statement said.

The proposed purchase must be approved by Scania’s shareholders. The head of a Swedish shareholders group wrote last week that it was the best option for Scania, Bloomberg News reported.

Volkswagen owns 75% of Munich-based MAN, and together the two own 62.6% of the equity and 89.2% of the voting rights in Scania, Bloomberg reported.

One German analyst told Transport Topics last week that he believes Volkswagen’s moves signal its intention to become a larger force in world truck sales.

“Volkswagen has long-term goals with [its] truck investments. I think that VW plans to also become a global player in the truck market,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center for Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.

“Renschler, whom I knew from my days at Daimler, is a truck guy,” Bratzel said in an e-mailed comment to TT. “He is able to expand the market area and products and work on synergies within the truck business unit as well as other business units of VW.”

While at Daimler, Renschler oversaw expanded truck-making operations in China and India, forging joint ventures in those countries and targeting growth in emerging markets.

“So far, Scania and MAN have not met the internal objectives, so VW [is trying] to exert more pressure,” Bratzel added. “The Scania deal can help in this.”

Scania and MAN make heavy trucks, and Volkswagen’s commercial-vehicle business produces delivery vans and the Amarok pickup.

A combination of MAN and Scania would make it larger than the Volvo Group, currently the No. 2 global heavy truck maker behind Daimler, Bloomberg reported.

MAN and Scania’s combined nine-month deliveries totaled 154,000 compared with 139,000 for Volvo and 350,000 for Daimler.

Volkswagen, which bought its first stake in Scania in 2000, began gaining holdings in MAN in 2006.