Hyundai sales head to join Volkswagen



At a time of sagging sales, German car maker Volkswagen AG has managed to rope in the marketing head of Hyundai’s India operations.

It is learnt that Arvind Saxena, who currently heads sales and marketing at the Korean automobile company has been asked to come on-board to manage the passenger cars business of Volkswagen India. He will replace Neeraj Garg, director and member of the board (passenger cars division), Volkswagen India, who is understood to have quit the company. Garg was promoted and offered a role in VW’s China operations but is understood to have declined the offer.

A message to Saxena to confirm the development remained unanswered. Sources at Hyundai’s office in Chennai, however, confirmed it. A company executive said on condition of anonymity, “Saxena put in his papers on Monday evening and is expected to leave within the next few days on his new assignment. Rakesh Srivastava, who recently joined as vice-president (national sales), will manage Saxena’s responsibilities till a new marketing head is appointed.”

Saxena had joined Hyundai as vice-president (sales & marketing) in November 2005. He became a director and a board member in the Korean company in 2009. A graduate in mechanical engineering from Moti Lal Nehru Regional Engineering College (MLNREC), Allahabad, and an MBA from the University of Lucknow, he has been in the automobile industry in various roles for over 29 years. He worked earlier at Maruti Suzuki.

Industry sources indicated another senior marketing executive, Sandeep Mandrekar, has also resigned from Volkswagen. He is being replaced by Pankaj Sharma, a general manager at Maruti Suzuki True Value, the car maker’s pre-owned vehicles business unit.

The appointments come at a time when Volkswagen’s sales declined by 16.3 per cent to 15,539 units between April and June this financial year. Production fell 30 per cent to 17,533 units in the period. The slowing numbers have raised questions on Volkswagen Group’s target to corner a 10 per cent share in the Indian market by 2018.

While the Group’s other brands, Audi and Skoda, have posted robust growth numbers, with volumes increasing by 52 per cent and 39 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year, VW’s market share has slipped to 2.35 per cent (from three per cent in the year-ago period). The new chief executive, Gerry Dorizas, is believed to be looking aggressively at getting sales back on track for the company. VW sells small car Polo, sedans Vento, Jetta and Passat, and luxury vehicles Beetle and Phaeton in the country.