Volkswagen Group places itself on even broader footing for automobile future
The Volkswagen Group is tackling the fields of future importance with great determination, focusing on connecting the automobile and the digital world, and on the fundamental transformation in drive technology that will take place over the coming two decades. The Volkswagen Group will develop and build more than 30 new additional electric vehicles by 2025. The Volkswagen brand's I.D. concept car with a range of up to 600 kilometers provides a first glimpse at the Paris Motor Show. Porsche is showcasing the Panamera E-Hybrid in Paris, the first of 17 new plug-in hybrids the Group will be introducing over the next two years. "The breakthrough for e-mobility cannot be achieved without substantial progress in batteries and infrastructure. So we are working hard on a rapid-charging project spearheaded by Porsche", Matthias M?ller said.
The Group has also launched new initiatives in the field of mobility on demand: an independent business unit has now been established for the new mobility services business field, the Group's 13th brand. In addition to ride hailing services in collaboration with the partner Gett, the team is already working on the Group's own shuttle service offerings and sharing concepts for urban mobility. "Looking a little further ahead, we could also operate our own self-driving shuttle fleets once urban autonomous driving technology is ready", Matthias M?ller said. He added: "In future, many people will no longer own a car. But they can all be a Volkswagen customer in one way or another – because we will serve a much broader concept of mobility than is the case today." By 2025, the new brand is to rank among the leading providers of urban mobility services and become the market leader in Europe. The official launch and the announcement of the new name are scheduled for this November.
With regard to mobility services, the partnership with Gett is also gathering momentum. In Moscow, where the market for ride hailing via app is booming, Volkswagen Group brands are now offering attractive vehicle packages to Gett drivers. Furthermore, a strategic partnership with the city of Hamburg to develop and test new concepts for urban mobility was recently concluded. In addition, Audi's new partnerships with the Chinese internet providers Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent will drive advances in networking the brand’s cars and in intelligent urban mobility solutions.
Mobility of the future: new freedoms for design
One important area of the Volkswagen Group that is closely involved in the future-oriented fields of e-mobility, digitalization or new mobility services is design. Michael Mauer, Head of Group Design, commented: "I am convinced that design will be a key factor in deciding which car brands are to survive in the future."
Michael Mauer explained the significance of design: "The mobility world of tomorrow gives us designers entirely new creative possibilities. Electric drives and autonomous driving remove many obstacles and change design more radically than has been the case in recent decades." He went on to say: "Moreover, key distinctive characteristics such as the sound of an engine are no longer relevant, so design becomes all the more important as a unique selling proposition."
Design creates character, distinctiveness and an emotional bond – not just to the product, but also to a brand. "While the brands need to focus more strongly on their individual identities, the Group can adopt the role of a bold pioneer going forward", Mauer said, adding: "In future, too, it is not fitness for purpose but beauty that decides whether a car commands a top price at auctions." Some 1,300 designers from 44 nations in the Volkswagen Group are working on the streetscape of the future.
"We are systematically focusing on our customers, their wishes and requirements for the mobility of the future. Designers, user experience experts and digitalization specialists work hand-in-hand at the Volkswagen Group Future Centers to reinvent the car and develop new ideas for mobile life", Mauer said, adding that no one could say today how fast this transformation will actually be.
Mauer sees the Volkswagen Group's multi-brand strategy as a great advantage for the future development of mobility: "Some brands will forge ahead with design and technology and others will benefit from that, so we can adapt flexibly to needs and developments. But that does not mean we will have uniform autonomous vehicles. The streetscape of the future will become even more varied, even more colorful, even more emotional."
Electric drives and classic powertrains will coexist
"Regardless of all the new opportunities and possibilities the mobility world of tomorrow opens up for us, we must not neglect our existing technologies and core competences", Matthias M?ller underscored: "The future is electric. Nevertheless, classic powertrains will continue to play a key role for the next two decades at least. We must and we will press ahead with the evolution of diesel and petrol engines. And at the same time, we will progress with alternative technologies."
Commenting on the diesel issue on the eve of the Paris Motor Show, Matthias M?ller said: "'Diesel' is and will remain an incisive turning point, a pivotal event in our history. We are working with all available resources to get to the roots of this crisis and work our way through all of the issues. And we have made substantial progress in this regard in recent months. However, shaping a sustainable future for Volkswagen is at least as important."
Consequently, the Volkswagen Group is strengthening its sustainability management and setting up a Sustainability Council with nine eminent international personalities from the sciences, politics and society. The Council will advise the Group Board of Management on matters relating to sustainable mobility, environmental protection, social responsibility and integrity. The constituent meeting will take place at the end of October.