Mertens is one of the first from outside the company to be given a top role at the Volkswagen Group following the emergence of the diesel emissions scandal in September 2015.
He replaces Stefan Knirsch who stepped down in September following reports connecting him with the scandal. Knirsch was only promoted to the role at the start of 2016 after veteran Audi R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg was suspended in the early days of the scandal and later resigned. Hackenberg is currently working for Finnish independent vehicle manufacturer Valmet.
Mertens was second from the top at Volvo’s R&D division, helping with projects such as the modular CMA and SPA platforms as well as plug-in hybrid and electric compressor technologies. He’s also had various roles at Mercedes-Benz, General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] and Jaguar Land Rover during his career.
Mertens isn’t the only top Volvo R&D executive Audi has snagged. Thomas Mueller, who was in charge of electric/electronics development at Volvo, will head a similar position at Audi starting in December.