Bernhard Mattes was born in Wolfsburg in 1956 and studied economics at the University of Hohenheim. He held a variety of sales-related posts at BMW from 1982 to 1999. He then joined the Management Board at Ford Werke, which he chaired from 2002 to 2016, and simultaneously (from 2006) held the post of Vice President of the European Ford Customer Service Division. He had a seat on the supervisory board at Ford Werke and on the Presidential Board of DEKRA. Since March 2018 Mattes was President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), before he resigned from office at the end of 2019.