The core brand of Europe’s largest car company presented a new strategy until 2030 on Friday. This is primarily about the further expansion of the electric fleet under the pressure of stricter climate targets. Unlike Volvo, Jaguar, Ford Motor or General Motors, the Wolfsburg-based company has not yet given a fixed date for saying goodbye to the combustion engine. VW users are to be gradually integrated into a digital network via downloads of additional functions and an expansion of the control software in the vehicles.
The manufacturer wants to link the two central topics of electrification and digitization more closely. In Europe, by the end of the decade, at least 70 percent of sales will be made exclusively by electric vehicles, as VW boss Ralf Brandstätter announced – a doubling of the previously planned sales quota for battery-electric models. Volkswagen had already indicated such a step.
In view of the EU target of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, a number of car manufacturers have to rework. VW had just missed the existing Brussels fleet targets last year, compliance should now work in 2021 thanks to further e-models. The company initially allows a number of vehicles to be used as company cars or via its own dealers – which was criticized by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace as a reduction in the CO2 balance. This year, however, the new ID series should be more broadly based. Globally, the VW Group is responsible for around 1 percent of all CO2 emissions.
With a view to the long-term strategy, Wolfsburg initially said that 300,000 more electric cars of the core brand would have to be built per year in Europe alone. VW is converting several plants to electric production. It is still partly unclear where the necessary capacities for battery cells will come from. As with electronic parts based on semiconductors, there are currently considerable delivery bottlenecks.
In the second half of the year, after the compact car ID.3 and the SUV ID.4, the sedan / SUV mix ID.5 will be launched, as will the larger SUV ID.6 in the most important market, China. In the People’s Republic and the USA, the pure E share is expected to increase to more than half by 2030. Overall business in the United States, which has so far been rather sluggish, is likely to go into the black this year. Brandstätter said that the series will probably be expanded to include a cheaper small car from 2025. Most recently it was said that a possible ID.2 in Polo format could come in the expansion stage from 2023.
At the same time, VW is sticking to the successor issues of gasoline and diesel vehicles, for example the Golf, Tiguan and Passat. “We still need the combustion engine for a certain period of time – but as efficiently as possible,” explained Brandstätter. There are also more plug-in hybrids. However, these are controversial because of the regular activation of the burner.
From Greenpeace’s point of view, the accelerated expansion of electric vehicles is going in the right direction – but VW is not moving away from conventional drives with enough determination. “This reaction is good, but it falls short,” says traffic expert Benjamin Stephan. “If VW wants to secure a relevant place in the future market for mobility, the group must become more independent of the number of cars sold and rely more on services such as car and ride sharing.”
At least services related to the data business with its own cars, the manufacturer wants to tackle more intensely. With the ID.3, for example, wireless software updates should be possible from the summer. It’s about direct customer communication, but also about new sources of money. The digital equipment of the vehicles is designed by default in such a way that all possible functions are basically pre-installed and the users can then activate them depending on demand and driving profile.
With a kind of software kit – similar to various drive kits – the expensive variety of numerous basic variants is supposed to decrease. VW sales director Klaus Zellmer said it was conceivable that the new procedure could “bring in three-digit million amounts in the coffers”. In addition, new businesses related to the energy supply and charging of e-vehicles are being considered.
The counterpart to the search for such revenue opportunities are further cost reductions. Within three years, VW wants to reduce its fixed expenditure by another five percent. During the negotiations, the works council had insisted that this should only be permitted within the framework of ongoing austerity programs. By 2023, the profitability in the ongoing business of the core brand, which has been chronically profitable for a long time, is to reach at least 6 percent of sales – and “beyond that, it is to be secured in the long term”.
Via XETRA, the VW share temporarily dropped 0.53 percent on Friday morning to 188.12 euros, but was then able to change the signs and went 2.31 percent higher at 193.48 euros into the weekend.
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