Diesel for the future
VW boss explains future impacts current issues will have on car builders
VOLKSWAGEN is paying very close attention to the issues in the automotive industry that are already changing the role of the automobile.
These issues are electric cars, the digitalisation of vehicles, and the impact of social change on factories and retail.
Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said VW’s “forward-looking ‘Future Tracks’ programme is the umbrella for all of these activities”.
He pointed out that thanks to sensor technology and connectivity, the group already has the largest networked fleet in the world on the road, adding that the automaker also has the world’s largest low-CO fleet, with the present lineup including 57 model variants that already meet the 95 gram target.
The company already offers the widest range of electromobility solutions in the automotive industry as well, with nine electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Winterkorn said VW now employs 46 000 researchers and developers as well as over 10 000 IT experts, all of whom are working on the mobility of the future such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalisation of vehicles and factories.
“We are an innovation think tank that develop technologies that point the way well into the future,” he said.
Winterkorn also reiterated that “Volkswagen is committed to its environmental goals”, commenting that the present low level of oil prices would not change that: “Oil will not be as cheap as it is at the moment for ever. The CO limits apply irrespective of fuel prices. And, more importantly, this is about our responsibility for protecting the climate.
“That is why our approach to drive diversity is the right one.”
With reference to the decision by the French government to outlaw diesel engines in Paris in the near future, Winterkorn stated that ever more efficient petrol and diesel engines are indispensable.
“Let me be very clear about one point: those who talk down diesel are jeopardising CO targets.”
He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. To remain a strong contender in competition with Asia and the U.S., Winterkorn called on industry in Europe to “show even more courage and even greater innovative strength.
“But there is also a need for greater openness and stronger backing from politics and society.”
Volkswagen invested €11,5 billion (R150 billion) in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide.
CEO of Volkswagen Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn stresses all the talk about emissions is not just a lot of hot air, but will drive future car are designed from the wheels up.