Volkswagen has turned to an industrial engineer with a plastics industry background to help the company win back "the hearts and minds of American buyers" following the scandal over diesel engines.
Our sister publication Automotive News is calling 55-year-old Hinrich Woebcken VW's "new secret weapon — emphasis on secret."
So who is Woebcken, and what's his plastics connection?
AN is treating him like a mystery man, noting that Woebcken has kept "a remarkably low profile throughout his career."
According to the biographical information in a news release from VW, Woebcken began his professional career in 1985 as a production engineer and assembly section manager in the injection molding machinery division of KraussMaffei AG. Later he became head of division, standard machinery, and then global head of sales and marketing.
He left plastics in 1998 for Dürr AG, and then Woebcken moved to BMW in 2004.
AN tried to get more information about Woebcken — after all, this is a high-profile job at a company that's been in the news spotlight. Reporter Christiaan Hetzner wrote that Woebcken "isn't one to hog the spotlight. Colleagues from former employers said they barely knew the man, judging him as someone who seemed happy to stay in the background and avoid the public eye.
"There's no social media footprint of him, either. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or its German equivalent, XING, no traces can be found."
I checked the Plastics News and Plastics News Europe story archives and found no mention of him, and I checked with a few of our reporters and editors, who also don't remember Woebcken.
Do any Plastics Blog readers remember this mystery man who spent 13 years at KraussMaffei? He may have kept a low profile for 30+ years, but I think we'll be hearing more from him in his new position, which he starts on April 1.
And while he may be an unknown leader in the auto industry, a VW source told Automotive News that "just because he worked in the background doesn't necessarily say anything about his qualities or whether he can perform in the job."