Audi AG announced that Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg has reached a mutual agreement with the Supervisory Board to step down as Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. The move comes as Volkswagen AG continues to work to address the diesel engine emissions cheating scandal. Dr. Hackenberg is being replaced by Dr. Stefan Knirsch, Head of Powertrain at Audi since 2013.
The new Chairman of the Audi Supervisory Board, Matthias Müller, praised Hackenberg’s significant impact on the Technical Development divisions of the entire Volkswagen Group, especially in the development of the modular toolkit system.
In the 30 years that he was active in the Volkswagen Group, Ulrich Hackenberg was involved in crucial strategies and model decisions. The highly flexible modular system resulted in flexible modular production. Both systems helped us to produce very efficiently and with high quality. Numerous car models from Audi, Volkswagen and Bentley were significantly affected by his commitment and expertise. On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I thank him for his many years of commitment and his professional passion.—Audi’s Board of Management Chairman Rupert Stadler
After graduating in mechanical engineering at Aachen RWTH University, Ulrich Hackenberg was employed as an assistant at the Institute for Motor Transport from 1978 until 1985. Amongst other positions there, he was the head of research into vehicle dynamics, developed lectures in motorcycle technology and gained a doctorate in 1985 on the stability properties of the “rider-motorcycle-road” system.
Hackenberg moved to Audi in 1985, where he took over the position of Head of Concept Development in 1989 and later led the technical project management for the entire product range. That included the Audi 80, A2, A3, A4, A6, A8 and TT models as well as numerous concept studies and show cars, the technical conception of the modular toolkit strategy and the development of a simultaneous-engineering structure.
He was active in the Volkswagen Group from 1998 until 2002. There, he was head of the Body Development department and additionally responsible as of late 1998 for Concept Development.
From 2002 until January 2007, Hackenberg once again worked for AUDI AG and was in charge of the Concept Development, Body Development, Electrics and Electronics departments. During that time, he developed the “modular longitudinal toolkit” (MLB).
On 1 February 2007, he became Member of Volkswagen’s Brand Board of Management with responsibility for the Technical Development division. He pushed forward with the further development and complete renewal of the Volkswagen product range and the development of the modular transverse toolkit. Further highlights were the XL1, the first series-produced “one‑liter car”, and the entry of the Volkswagen Brand into motorsport.
As of 1 July 2013, he was the Board of Management Member for Technical Development of AUDI AG. In addition, he was responsible for coordinating the development of all the brands of the Volkswagen Group.
Dr. Stefan Knirsch came to Audi’s Engine Development department as a young engineer in 1990. In 1996, he moved to Porsche AG as a project manager, where he worked as head of base engine development from 2001 onwards.
After gaining a doctor’s degree at the Institute for Materials Technology of the University of Magdeburg in 2006, he took over the position of head of aftersales in the sales department of Porsche AG in 2007. In 2010, he became head of the corporate quality department at Porsche. After that, Knirsch moved as CEO of the Board of Management of Pierburg GmbH to the automotive division of Rheinmetall.
He returned to Audi in May 2013 and took over the position of Head of Powertrain.