Tuesday, 3 March 2015

VW embarks on “future tracks” R&D programme

Volkswagen invested €11.5 billion in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide.

According to Professor Dr. Martin Winterkorn, cchief executive officer of Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen is an “innovation think tank” that develops technologies that point the way well into the future.

According to Winterkorn, the “world’s most innovative company” now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as over 10,000 IT experts.

He claims these are working on the “mobility of the future” such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalisation of vehicles and factories.

Winterkorn added that the car maker is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” programme.

To remain a strong contender in competition with Asia and the USA, 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.”

Winterkorn stressed that “at Volkswagen, technology is never an end in itself. All these technologies serve people, our customers. Because they make driving safer and more comfortable, because they conserve resources and protect the environment, and because they bring together the mobile and the digital worlds.”

Winterkorn wants to see “in Europe in particular, a climate where new technologies are not eyed with suspicion right from the outset”, but rather a climate “where innovations are truly welcome.”

“As a centre of automotive engineering and manufacturing, Europe must, for example, drive forward core technologies such as piloted driving with determination and speed,” he added.

Winterkorn said: “It may come as a surprise, but I highly welcome the interest of Apple, Google and others in the automobile. Because that means the car will gain more acceptance from ‘Digital Natives’.”

Volkswagen is paying very close attention to future issues for the automotive industry including electromobility, the digitalisation of vehicles, factories and retail, or social change, which is altering, and to a certain extent redefining, the role of the automobile.
                                           Future Tracks programme

“Our forward-looking ‘Future Tracks’ programme is the umbrella for all of these activities,” Winterkorn said.

He pointed out that thanks to sensor technology and connectivity, VW already has the largest networked fleet in the world on the road, adding that the automaker also has the world’s largest low-CO2 fleet, with the present line-up, including 57 model variants that already meet the 95g/km 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 reiterated VW’s commitment to its “environmental goals”, noting 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 CO2 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,” he declared.

Winterkorn stated that ever more efficient petrol and diesel engines are “indispensable”. This will be good news for vendors supplying the diesel engine industry.

“Let me be very clear about one point: those who talk down diesel are jeopardizing CO2 targets,” he emphasised.

VW claims it is “well ahead of schedule” with its most important environmental targets.

For example, emissions by the EU new vehicle fleet were brought down to approximately 125 grams CO2/km last year, or 13 per cent less than 2010 and 31 per cent less than 1995.

This suggests the VW Group is already well below the legal limit for 2015. Production processes have already been made 19 per cent more environmentally compatible within the space of four years, well on the way to the target of 25 per cent.

According to Winterkorn: “The second half will be tougher than the first. Every additional gram and percent we save will be a hard-fought battle.”

In the first two months of this year, VW Group delivered over 1.5 million for the first time in its history. Last year, the group topped the 10 million delivery mark for the first time.

No comments: