FRANKFURT, June 20 Volkswagen's premium unit Audi has sacked its head of research and development after less than a year, German weekly Spiegel reported on Thursday.
Wolfgang Duerheimer, who previously served as R&D chief for Porsche and Chief Executive of Bentley, will be replaced by VW brand research chief Ulrich Hackenberg, according to the magazine.
Hackenberg, who served at Audi before assuming his current post in February 2007, is a close confidante of Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.
Spiegel reported that top managers had criticised Audi for not being innovative enough compared to larger rival BMW .
While Audi stopped the planned electric versions of the R8 super-sports car and the diminutive A1 hatchback, BMW is preparing to launch later this year its i3 megacity electric car that sports a lightweight carbon-fibre skeleton.
Duerheimer took over as Audi R&D chief last September after his predecessor, Michael Dick, was replaced in a major group-wide management reshuffle for similar reasons.
Neither Volkswagen nor Audi could be reached for a comment. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner, additional reporting by Jan Schwartz; Editing by Marilyn Gerlach and Elaine Hardcastle)