Volkswagen Group has announced structural and staff realignment in order to speed up its internal decision-making process.

The German automaker said that the areas of responsibility, headed by CEO Matthias Müller, are being restructured. With this, Volkswagen says the number of top managers reporting directly to the CEO has been almost halved and new appointments to several posts will take effect in the first quarter of 2016.

Müller said in a statement that the company's structural changes are intended to speed up the decision-making process as well as to increase efficiency.

“These structural changes speed up the decision-making process, reduce complexity and increase efficiency. The Group Board of Management can focus more closely than previously on overarching issues of the future, safeguard cross-brand synergies and further develop overall strategy,” said Müller.

Under these structural changes, the following appointments take effect in the CEO’s area of responsibility during the first quarter of 2016:

Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn (54) will lead Group Research and Development. Eichhorn holds a PhD in mechanical engineering. Having started his career at Ford, he was Head of Volkswagen Group Research from 2000 to 2003. He was appointed Board Member for Engineering at Bentley in 2003 before taking over as Managing Director of the German Association of the Automotive Industry in 2012.

Fred Kappler (57) will assume responsibility for Group Sales. He studied business science and joined Volkswagen as a trainee in 1982. He held various responsibilities in the export section of Sales at Volkswagen AG since 1983.

Michael Mauer (53) will lead Group Design – in addition to his present function at Porsche. He has been Head of the Design Department at Porsche AG since 2004 and was also given responsibility for styling the 2007 Porsche Cayenne, the Panamera and the 918 Spyder.

Wolfram Thomas (59) takes charge of Group Production. Thomas holds an engineering degree and has been with the Volkswagen Group for 35 years.

Ralf-Gerhard Willner (54) will lead Group Product and Modular Toolkit Strategy. He began his career at Audi in Ingolstadt in 1987. Following various management functions at Audi and Volkswagen, he was named Head of Development Vehicle Concepts at Audi in Ingolstadt in 2003.

Note: Photo shown above is the Volkswagen GTI Roadster Vision GT concept