German carmaker Volkswagen named new chief executive officer on Thursday evening after its supervisory board held an urgent meeting.
According to the company's statement, Volkswagen brand director Herbert Diess replaced Matthias Mueller and became the new CEO of the German automaker.
In the statement, VW board thanked Mueller for his service to the company began in 2015.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board Hans Dieter Putsch said in the statement Mueller took the chairmanship at a time when VW faced the greatest challenge in its history and safely navigated the company through it. "For that, he is due the thanks of the entire company."
The sudden supervisory meeting was originally announced as not taking place until Friday in a cryptic press statement which first raised the possibility of far-reaching managerial changes at the Wolfsburg-based company.
However, board members decided to convene a day earlier after media reports caused wild speculation over corporate restructuring efforts.
Diess, who joined VW in July 2015 after previously working as an executive in VW's rival BMW, was going to restructure company.
"In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services," Diess said in the statement.
Automotive industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer told newspaper "Passauer Neue Presse" on Thursday that while Diess was a good choice for the post of CEO, combining his roles as corporate and brand managers would bear risks.
According to Dudenhoeffer, negative experiences under the leadership of former CEOs Martin Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piech illustrated the danger of installing "an all-powerful know-it-all" to direct Volkswagen's fortunes.
The Volkswagen Group currently employs more than 600,000 staff across the world and includes the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley, as well as a utility vehicle producers MAN and Scania.
The automotive giant came under pressure in the wake of the global "dieselgate" scandal to re-assess the structure of its automotive empire as it seeks to restore its tarnished reputation and transition gradually to the production of new energy vehicles. The company has announced investments totalling more than 20 billion euros (24.6 billion U.S. dollars) in electric mobility over the next years towards this end.