ATLANTA — Porsche’s U.S. boss is said to be getting a major promotion.
Klaus Zellmer, 53, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, will be elevated to chief sales officer at parent Volkswagen Group, according to German website Manager Magazin.
A Porsche Cars North America spokesman declined to comment Thursday morning.
Zellmer will replace Jürgen Stackmann in Wolfsburg, the German business magazine said, citing unnamed sources. Stackmann joined VW as head of sales in 2015 through board positions at Skoda and Seat. Stackmann, 58, who overhauled dealer contracts and designed the VW brand campaign, is under fire internally and expected to leave, according to media reports.
Since taking the top job in the U.S. in late 2015, Zellmer steered Porsche toward a nearly 20 percent increase in sales. The sports car maker last year sold a record 61,568 vehicles in its second-largest market.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has tapped the brakes on that momentum. Second-quarter sales tumbled 20 percent as about half of the brand’s U.S. dealers shuttered their sales operations during the initial lockdowns starting in March.
Zellmer oversaw several product introductions, including the current-generation Porsche 911 and the brand’s first all-electric model, the Taycan. He also is the architect of Porsche vehicle subscription program.
Dave Zoloto, general manager at Porsche North Scottsdale in Arizona, described Zellmer as a “fast-track guy” and staunch advocate for U.S. dealers.
“Every dealer in the country has been doing much better than they were before he walked in,” Zoloto said. “He’s gotten additional allocations from Germany that we wouldn’t have seen.”
In his potential new role as VW sales boss, Zellmer will have to contend with the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic.
During the first half of the year, Volkswagen posted a net after-tax loss of about 1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) as revenue fell 23 percent to 96 billion euros. Total vehicle deliveries fell 27 percent to 3.9 million vehicles.
Christiaan Hetzner contributed to this report.
The Porsche U.S. CEO job is considered a career springboard for VW executives.
Zellmer’s predecessor Detlev von Platen is now head of sales for Porsche Group.
Meanwhile, Peter Schwarzenbauer moved from the Porsche U.S. headquarters in Atlanta to Audi in 2008, where he was head of sales. He later took on various board positions at competitor BMW.
Zellmer’s current role emerged out of a crisis. He was tapped for the top U.S. job after the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal led to a massive executive reshuffling throughout Volkswagen Group in fall 2015.
Before that, Zellmer proved himself to be an effective operator, nearly doubling Porsche sales as head of Germany.