Volkswagen has been bloodied and bruised by the diesel emissions scandal that broke last month, but its Brand Board of Management has just announced a bold plan to help it get up off the mat and back into the game. The multi-pronged approach will slash spending, improve efficiency and set new standards in four important areas.
The Phaeton Will Be Electric
The Volkswagen Phaeton represents the signature model of the Volkswagen brand. The Board announced October 13 that “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 of Management redefined the current project. The specification features a pure electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design.”
Are you listening, Tesla? VW is planning a challenge for the Model S and it is putting the entire weight of the company behind that effort.
The MEB electric toolkit
In addition to the top-of-the-line Phaeton, Volkswagen is planning “a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles [that] 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 kilometers.”
Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB)
The Board is also planning to reinvigorate its plug-in hybrid program. “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 [and] high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 kilometers.” In addition, VW will roll out mild hybrids “that utilize a 48 volt power supply system as well as ever more efficient diesel, petrol and CNG concepts.”
Ramping Up Diesel Technology
Some observers assumed that Volkswagen would stop selling diesel cars entirely, at least in North America. But the Board says no, it will begin making the best diesel cars on the planet. “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.”
Is It Enough?
The Volkswagen Board and CEO Dr. Herbert Diess are talking a good game. They are not showing any signs of quitting or moping around while they search for their lost reputation. Instead, they are confronting their problems head on and taking logical steps to restore the confidence of customers in Volkswagen products and recapture the company’s position as the world’s largest automaker.
And it seems to be working. The company’s stock price has ended is tumultuous slide and is holding steady for the first time in a month. The response of the automotive press has been overwhelmingly positive. All signs point to the Board’s new plan as being precisely the right medicine at the right time for the ailing company. It’s possible that when business schools teach future students how to deal with a corporate crisis effectively, they will use Volkswagen as the leading example.
Many people have been wondering where the affordable electric cars are. Now we know more are coming, and some will be carrying the Volkswagen logo when they get here.