Former Lamborghini Boss Stephan Winkelmann Leaving Audi Sport to Run Bugatti in 2018

According to a report in Autocar, the rise through Volkswagen Group ranks accomplished by Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann will continue in 2018.

Formerly a Fiat employee, the 52-year-old Winkelmann became famous in the auto industry during his decade-long run as president and CEO of Lamborghini. Winkelmann then took over at Audi’s Quattro performance division in March 2016 before changing its name to Audi Sport. But the Rome native’s tenure at Audi Sport will reportedly be cut short by Volkswagen Group’s need to fill the lead position at its flagship brand, Bugatti.

If Autocar’s sources are right, look for Winkelmann to take over at Bentley in 2019, as well. Makes you wonder: Winkelmann has climbed from Fiat to Lamborghini to Audi Sport to Bugatti and Bentley. What’s next?

Though given scant time to dramatically alter the Audi Sport division, there’s no denying the impact Stephan Winkelmann had at Lamborghini.

Winkelmann oversaw massive advances in sales (which doubled during his leadership), Lamborghini’s global dealer network (which tripled in size), and the division’s employee count (which like volume, essentially doubled). In the half-decade prior to Winkelmann taking over, Lamborghini was averaging fewer than 800 annual sales. The brand averaged 2,300 annual sales during the last half-decade in which Winkelmann ran the show in Sant’Agata Bolognese.Winkelmann oversaw the release of the Murciélago-replacing Aventador and the Gallardo-replacing Huracán. Perhaps of even greater importance will be the production of the Urus, the SUV Winkelmann charged Lamborghini’s engineers with developing. The production Urus — hopefully with a different name — is expected to double the brand’s volume.

At Bugatti, Winkelmann will take over from the 59-year-old Wolfgang Dürheimer, who will likely remain in charge at Bentley for a couple more years until Winkelmann fills that position, as well. Autocar reports that the new head of Audi Sport will be Michael-Julius Renz, who is presently in charge of Audi in China.

Renz will be tasked with fulfilling a vision laid out for Audi Sport by Winkelmann, who believed that all-wheel drive was not entirely necessary for all Audi performance models; that RS SUVs were more vital than hardcore R8s.

As for Bugatti, don’t expect Winkelmann to double sales, triple the dealer network, and double the size of the workforce.

[Images: Audi AG, Lamborghini]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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