Canadian Pierre Boutin, who announced earlier this week he is leaving Volkswagen Group Canada as President and CEO after almost four years to return to Europe for a “new challenge,” made quite an impression on the federal and Ontario governments, the Canadian automotive industry, and Volkswagen dealers across the country during his time in the position.
“He was very passionate about being Canadian and the Canadian marketplace and what it potentially offers to investors,” said David Adams, President and CEO of the Global Automakers of Canada, in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “I think he was the right person at the right time.”
Boutin took on his role at Volkswagen Group Canada in January 2020, after heading up Volkswagen Group France from November 2017 to December 2019. Overall, he has been with Volkswagen since April 2014, when he headed up Volkswagen Group Russia. Prior to that he had worked in various executive leadership roles with Nissan Motor Corporation.
Among the highlights of his time at the helm of Volkswagen Canada was his role in working with the company’s head office and the Canadian and Ontario governments in an agreement announced earlier this year to invest $7 billion in an electric battery vehicle plant in St. Thomas. Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job and Trade, worked closely with Boutin in the discussions and lauded him for his commitment.
“Pierre Boutin’s deep understanding of Volkswagen helped us in our pursuit of landing Volkswagen battery manufacturing here in Ontario,” said Fedeli in a statement provided to Canadian auto dealer. “He represented the company wonderfully, with the utmost professionalism, and he was helpful in guiding us in our dealings with additional German companies. His thoughtful contributions will be missed and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.”
Adams said Boutin played a crucial role being a bilingual Canadian during the negotiation process. He said Volkswagen was actively looking at the U.S. market to make the investment.
“That was a huge feather in his cap to facilitate at least some of that with the head office back in Germany and facilitate discussions with the federal and provincial governments as well,” said Adams. “Because he’s Canadian, I think he’s always done his best job, from my understanding, to make his own case for Canada within the Volkswagen organization.”
Boutin helped bring Volkswagen’s first-ever fully-electric SUV, the ID.4, to the Canadian market. He worked with dealers on a plan to invest $1 billion in their facilities in his role as Co-Chair of the dealer-company relations committee, which was named Volkswagen Roundtable. He took over his new role just as the world was about to be shut down by COVID-19 and a subsequent supply parts shortage that limited production of new vehicles.
It has not been announced by the manufacturer what Boutin’s new role will be or who will replace him.
“I am fully engaged to close our fiscal year on a high note and launch our plans for a record-breaking year in 2024, stepping-up the pace and making Volkswagen a love brand in the heart of more Canadians,” said Boutin. “I am therefore eager to jump into new and unexplored fields where I can continue to bring value and interact with passionate and talented people. Looking forward to writing the new chapter.”
Michael Crosby, Dealer Principal of Crosby Automotive Group, worked closely with Boutin over the last three years as Co-Chairs of the Volkswagen Roundtable and praised his leadership style, which he said was very passionate about the brand, the dealers, and the customers.
“We were at a transition point with improving our SUV lineup with combustion engines and then the introduction of our first fully electric vehicle,” said Crosby. “He did a great job, basically, working with the dealers and getting them prepared for the future of Volkswagen in Canada. We got the largest automotive investment in Canada with the battery plant in St. Thomas.
“I think it’ll be looked back upon as a really successful period for Volkswagen Canada. He’s done a great job to lay the foundation for the next three to five years. He’s leaving a strong legacy behind him for the future.”
Aaron Fanslau, General Manager of Turner Volkswagen in Kelowna and President of the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association, praised Boutin for establishing a really good line of communication between the brand and the dealers.
“I think his leadership was very people first,” said Fanslau. “He joined Volkswagen literally as COVID took hold around the world. I do think he did a very good job navigating around our brand through a very difficult time.”
Ryan Williams, General Manager of Taylor Volkswagen in Regina, said it was a pleasure working with Boutin.
“I found Mr. Boutin to be straightforward, honest, above all else a man of his word,” said Williams. “He demonstrated a sincere commitment to building a stronger importer/dealer relationship. Our collective success since coming out of a once in a lifetime pandemic, global parts shortages, and logistical nightmares was a direct result of his leadership. He will be greatly missed.”