* Ex-Audi R&D boss to take Bentley, Bugatti helm June 1
* Current head to assume leading role at group level - VW
BERLIN, April 15 (Reuters) - Volkswagen has appointed Audi’s former development chief to take the reins at Bentley and Bugatti, the third top management change at the two ultra-luxury auto brands in just over three years.
Wolfgang Duerheimer, sacked as Audi’s R&D boss last June over differences with staff, will become head of Bentley and Bugatti on June 1, replacing Wolfgang Schreiber who will assume “a leading role” within the VW group, the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer said on Tuesday.
Duerheimer, a former top executive at Porsche, another VW stablemate, quit Audi last year following criticism by senior managers at VW group who were concerned that the premium brand was losing momentum.
It will be Duerheimer’s second stint at Britain-based Bentley and France-based Bugatti. In February 2011, he took the helm at both brands for 19 months, succeeding retiring chief Franz-Josef Paefgen.
Though Bentley and Bugatti, owned by VW since 1998, account for less than 0.2 percent of last year’s 9.73 million global vehicle sales, the two brands help to give the German group an aura of technical prowess, while carrying out key research tasks, especially on lightweight construction.
Schreiber, previously head of VW’s Germany-based commercial-vehicles division, has led operations at Bentley and Bugatti since September 2012. VW declined to comment on his future position. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Mark Potter)