Wednesday 14 October 2015

VW: Out with the old; bring in the new

The newly-formed Volkswagen brand board of management has realigned diesel strategy in the light of the company’s recent 'defeat device' scandal.

The board has taken a number of major product decisions at a special meeting, including one which affects VW's premium product Phaeton, currently powered by 3-litre V6 diesel and 3.2- and 3.6-litre VR6, and 4.2-litre V8 gasoline engines.

Chief executive officer Dr. Herbert Diess has announced: a reorientation of the diesel strategy with the most advanced technologies, the development of a “standardized electric architecture” for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, and a new approach for the next generation of the Phaeton.

 Investments will be reduced by €1 billion a year; and the company’s the efficiency programme will be “accelerated”.

Dr. Herbert Diess underscored: “The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future. We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program.”

                                                Revised diesel strategy

It was decided to switch over to “installing only diesel drives with SCR and AdBlue technology in Europe and North America as soon as possible”.

Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that “use the best environmental technology”. Dr. Diess did not elaborate what these would be.

There will be a major development thrust for the proven MQB standardized technical toolkit, where Volkswagen Passenger Cars holds responsibility for development within the Group network.

The focus is on plug-in hybrids with an even greater range, high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 km, a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid) as well as “ever more efficient diesel”, petrol and CNG concepts. A new standard with regard to connectivity and driver assistance systems is to be defined.

An “MEB electric toolkit” for future use in compact segment vehicles will be developed based on the experience gained with existing vehicle architectures. (MEB is Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten).

This will be a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and will “thus leverage synergies” from other electric vehicle projects in the Group.

The standardized system will be designed for all body structures and vehicle types, thus allowing particularly emotional vehicle concepts, and will enable an all-electric range of 250 to 500 km.

                                                  Phaeton will be electric

The Volkswagen Phaeton has embodied the brand’s technological competence and brand ambition from the first generation onward.

The future generation of the Phaeton will once again be the flagship for the brand’s profile over the next decade.

In light of this, the board redefined the current project, ditching the previous high-end strategy. The specification features a pure electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design.

Dr. Diess added: “We are very aware that we can only implement these innovations for the future of the Volkswagen brand effectively if we succeed with our efficiency program and in giving our product range a new focus.”

“Together with my board of management colleagues and the entire team we are working at top speed on these issues. Time and again, the Volkswagen team has proved it stands united and is fully focused on shaping the future, particularly when times are tough. We have now laid the further foundations for that.”

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