After initially denying rumours that former DaimlerChrysler executive Wolfgang Bernhard would be joining Volkswagen, the company confirmed on Wednesday that he has been employed to eventually head Volkswagen brand.

After initially denying rumours that former DaimlerChrysler executive Wolfgang Bernhard would be joining Volkswagen, the company confirmed on Wednesday that he had been employed to eventually head Volkswagen brand.

Bernhard will become a member of Volkswagen’s board of management, initially without a portfolio, from February 1 2005. It is expected that he will then take up the position of Volkswagen chairman by January 1 2006.

Dr Bernd Pischetsrieder, chairman of Volkswagen AG’s board of management, said: "We are delighted that such a respected expert on our industry and experienced automotive manager will be joining our group.”

Outlining future developments, Pischetsrieder said: “We have already been working on the effective unbundling of brand and Group functions at Volkswagen for over a year. Dr Bernhard will manage the VW brand independently as soon as we have fully completed this process."

Bernhard joins Volkswagen with a reputation as a tough cost-cutter and a hands-on manager who will do anything necessary to improve the performance of a brand.

Bernhard was Chrysler’s chief operation officer before his abrupt departure from DaimlerChrysler earlier this year. He had been appointed head of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car division, only to be stripped of his role days before his position would become effective.