Peter Mertens has stepped down from his position as Audi’s member of the board of management for technical development, citing “health reasons”.

The 57-year-old, a former Volvo executive who had been in the role since May 2017, asked Audi’s supervisory board to release him from his duties.

“Over the past 16 months, we have initiated a comprehensive transformation at technical development and started the future orientation of the division. This requires a high level of concentration, which I cannot fully manage in my situation,” Mertens said.

“During this time, my health and my family have priority. I thank everyone at Audi for their commitment, their support and the great co-operation I have experienced during this time,” he added.

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen CEO and Audi supervisory board chairperson, said the brand “deeply” regretted the loss of Mertens, but respected “the reasons that led to his decision” and wished him “a full recovery”.

Hans-Joachim Rothenpielerm who since 2016 had been head of group quality management at Volkswagen, would take over from Mertens at the start of November 2018.

Rothenpieler has been employed at the Volkswagen Group since 1986, serving in roles such as the head of vehicle development at Skoda, member of the board of management for technical development at Bentley and member of the board of management for development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.