Volkswagen South Africa has named German executive Steffen Knapp as the new head its passenger car brand.

Knapp has been in the role since the start of January 2021, replacing Martina Biene. The German joins the South African team from Volkswagen India, where he was director of the passenger car brand.

VW SA says Knapp, who holds a degree in economics, has spent his entire career in the automotive industry. He has held various management positions in Europe, where he worked not only for the Wolfsburg-based firm but also brands such as Seat and Ford.

“I am confident that Steffen Knapp will continue the great work initiated by Martina Biene and complement that with his own initiatives. He has good strategic skills and a wealth of experience, which augurs well for both the Volkswagen team and the dealer network,” said Mike Glendinning, VW SA sales and marketing director.

Biene left South Africa at the end of August 2020 to take up a new position at Volkswagen’s headquarters in Germany. Earlier that month, Thomas Schaefer moved out of the role of VW Group SA managing director to become global CEO for Škoda. Schaefer was replaced in SA by Robert Cisek.

In 2020, the Volkswagen passenger cars brand registered a “record market share” in South Africa, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Volkswagen passenger cars brand recorded total sales of 53 319 units during the year, with the locally built Polo Vivo (19 750 units) leading the way as SA’s best-selling passenger car.