Former VW Group CDO Johann Jungwirth has joined Israeli sensor specialist Mobileye as vice president in charge of mobility as a service (MaaS) operations.



Source: Jonas Wresch

During his time at Volkswagen, Jungwirth was a tireless promotor of decisive moves toward driverless vehicles

Jungwirth started his new position, which is based in Israel, in August already, according to his Linkedin profile. The former VW executive will work on the self-driving technologies that he sees as a core part of future MaaS offerings.

“I believe that Mobility-as-a-Service based on self-driving vehicles is the right thing to do for both society and for cities,” Jungwirth said on Linkedin.

As CDO of the Volkswagen Group, Jungwirth was a tireless promotor of digital transformation at the world’s biggest automotive company.

Generally known as ‘JJ,’ he was for a while the face of VW’s digital transformation, tirelessly explaining that car companies - including Volkswagen - have no choice but to move from being traditional automakers to a new mobility service providers.

But the digitalization specialist, who has served as executive vice president of mobility services at Volkswagen’s American division from August 2018 until his departure from the company, apparently disagreed with VW Group CEO Herbert Diess on VW’s strategic priorities.

According to Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper, Jungwirth’s departure also had to do with a change in the way the company approaches autonomous driving. According to the newspaper, Jungwirth was eager to deepen ties between VW and driverless-car specialist Aurora, while VW prioritized other avenues. The German carmaker is now reported to be close to working together with Ford autonomous affiliate Argo AI.

In general, Jungwirth promoted a vision that included a quick move toward full autonomous driving, whereas today, most automakers see a more limited application of so-called Level 5 or full autonomy.

Jungwirth became CDO at VW Group in 2015, leaving Apple in Silicon Valley to return to the auto industry as the main architect of VW’s digital transformation. Earlier in his career he had worked at premium car group Daimler.

At VW, Jungwirth, among other things, built the Volkswagen Future Center outside Berlin, where the brand’s autonomous “Sedric” mobiity study was developed.

“I believe that Mobility-as-a-Service based on self-driving vehicles is the right thing to do for both society and for cities,”

Johann Jungwirth, Mobileye

Jungwirth’s departure represents a continuation of a trend that has seen many digital executives join and then leave the auto industry again after only a few years.

At BMW, Jens Monsees, its head of digitalization, recently moved on to become CEO of Australian advertising company WPP AUNZ. He joined the premium car maker from Google in 2016.

Earlier this year, Dieter May, head of digital products and services at BMW, left the company after five years. He came from Nokia in 2014 and departed from BMW to become head of Osram Opto Semiconductors.

Thilo Koslowski recently left Porsche, where he was CDO and head of Porsche Digital. Before joining Porsche, he was a well known Silicon Valley-based analyst who worked for consultants and market researchers Gartner in California. Koslowski joined Porsche in 2016.

And at the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Ogi Redzic, a Nokia and Here executive, was recruited in 2016 to head mobility services for the two carmakers. He lasted two years and seven months in the job, before jumping to Caterpillar.

Renault’s French competitor PSA Group also had a relatively quick change in the CDO role two years ago. The carmaker recruited Yahoo executive Brigitte Cantaloube, who started as CDO at the beginning of 2016, only to be replaced by company insider Christophe Rauturier two years later.

Mobileye, which was acquired by chipmaker Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion, specializes in vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems that are seen as core building blocks for highly automated and autonomous vehicles.

The company’s technology already is built into various production vehicles. In January 2017, it teamed up with BMW to develop a test fleet of autonomous vehicles. And last year, Mobileye said it was planning a ride-hailing service that would use autonomous cars provided by Volkswagen.

Jungwirth said on Linkedin that the key technologies are now at a level where driverless cars can become reality. Said the former VW executive: “For decades we have been dreaming of the time when the technology would be ripe – the sensors, the AI, and the compute power in a mobile environment – and now is that time to make this dream come true.”