Diesel for the fu­ture

VW boss ex­plains fu­ture im­pacts cur­rent is­sues will have on car builders

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - — Wit­ness Re­porter.

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

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.

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