Woebcken will take charge of  VW's US operations. Horn will stay as CEO (Photo: VW)

Volkswagen has appointed a former BMW executive to head its North American operations, as the German carmaker attempts to move forward following its admission of widespread emissions-testing manipulations.

The company said Hinrich Woebcken, most recently in charge of the commercial vehicles business of Munich-based brakes maker Knorr Bremse, will assume responsibility for all of VW's passenger car brand operations in North America from April 1.

He will also become chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, but Michael Horn will continue as president and CEO of these operations.

Woebcken, who has an industrial engineering degree, joined BMW in 2004 and held various positions across the premium car group's purchasing operations. From 1998 until joining BMW, he was in charge of sales at supplier group Duerr.

Since Volkswagen admitted last September that it had used software to trick diesel emissions tests in the US and elsewhere, the company has swapped out a large number of its senior managers. VW Group veteran Winfried Vahland was offered the top US job last October, but the former head of the company's Skoda brand declined.

The US market, where VW has traditionally struggled, "will remain a key core market for the Volkswagen brand," VW brand CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement. Diess himself joined VW from BMW in 2015.

VW sales have been under pressure since the diesel revelations and dealers and potential  VW buyers are facing continued uncertainty over how the brand will handle the myriad challenges it now faces in the US. Earlier this month US and California regulators rejected a fix VW had proposed for most of the diesel engines affected

Diess, in the press statement, appeared to acknowledge that the brand needs to work on its customer image. Said the brand CEO: "The North American Region must be steered in the interest of our customers and dealers there."