VW plans for far fu­ture

While fo­cus is on evees, Du­cati sale can help pay for Diesel Gate

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

WOLFSBURG — Volk­swa­gen is more fo­cused on its multi-bil­lion-euro shift to­wards elec­tric ve­hi­cles and trans­port ser­vices than any po­ten­tial sale of mo­tor­cy­cle brand Du­cati or trans­mis­sions maker Renk, its head of strat­egy told Reuters.

An­a­lysts and bankers have been ex­pect­ing Europe’s big­gest car­maker to sell as­sets soon to help meet the cost of its diesel emis­sions test cheat­ing scan­dal, which has al­ready reached as much as $25 bil­lion.

But Thomas Se­dran said the Ger­man com­pany was in no hurry to make di­vest­ments, which are op­posed by its pow­er­ful labour unions, point­ing to the group’s strong fi­nan­cial per­for­mance de­spite the “diesel­gate” scan­dal.

“It’s much more im­por­tant to dis­cuss which new busi­ness fields the com­pany will en­ter. Di­vest­ments are less rel­e­vant,” he said in an in­ter­view.

Volk­swa­gen has asked banks to ex­am­ine op­tions for Du­cati and Renk, in­clud­ing sell­ing the two di­vi­sions, sources have said, as it re­views its busi­nesses af­ter an­nounc­ing a ma­jor push into elec­tric cars and ser­vices such as ride-hail­ing a year ago.

Five bid­ders have been short-listed for Du­cati, in­clud­ing Italy’s Benet­ton fam­ily, with of­fers rang­ing from €1,3-1,5 bil­lion ($1,5-1,8 bil­lion), a sep­a­rate source said last month.

But the po­ten­tial deal cur­rently does not have the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity on Volk­swa­gen’s su­per­vi­sory board, with labour lead­ers — who oc­cupy half the board seats — re­sist­ing a sale un­less there are com­pelling fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

“Top man­age­ment has a clear idea of what be­longs to core busi­ness and what doesn’t,” Se­dran said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing. “It is now a ques­tion of how the su­per­vi­sory board will as­sess this and what one wants to do.”

He said the range of pos­si­ble changes was “far greater than just the things that are seized on in public dis­cus­sion”, adding the money to pay for the emis­sions scan­dal had to be found some­where.

“So it’s per­fectly plau­si­ble that we con­sider whether the time may have come to find a more suit­able owner for cer­tain busi­ness ar­eas,” said Se­dran, a for­mer head of Gen­eral Mo­tors in Europe who joined Volk­swa­gen two months af­ter the scan­dal broke.

Since then, Volk­swa­gen man­age­ment has had to deal with an ev­er­grow­ing num­ber of “diesel­gate” probes in Ger­many and abroad, as well as a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion into po­ten­tial col­lu­sion among Ger­man car­mak­ers.

On the group’s long-run­ning ef­fort to pro­duce a low-cost car for emerg­ing mar­kets, he said Czech brand Skoda would try to de­velop such a ve­hi­cle for In­dia by 2020, one year later than planned af­ter co­op­er­a­tion talks with Tata Mo­tors col­lapsed.

Skoda has de­vel­oped “a se­ries of ideas” for a cheap car for In­dia that could then be used in other mar­kets such as Brazil and Iran, Se­dran said.

He poured cold wa­ter on union calls for pro­duc­tion of a new model to be as­signed to one of three Ger­man auto-mak­ing sites to boost plant util­i­sa­tion.

“To take cars out of one plant for the short term and give pro­duc­tion to another plant doesn’t achieve much.” — Reuters.

PHOTO: VW

Bow­ing to pop­u­lar de­mand, Volk­swa­gen con­firmed it will launch the all-elec­tric ID Buzz at deal­er­ships in 2022, with the nos­tal­gic re­make des­tined for mar­kets in North Amer­ica, Europe and China. VW said the ID Buzz won’t just be a pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle, but like the clas­sic T2 (left), the new elec­tric ve­hi­cle will trans­port peo­ple or cargo.

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