VOLKSWAGEN will use 2016 to rebuild itself and resolve the diesel emissions problems that brought the company to its knees in 2015 and resulted in a major management cleanout.
Speaking to 400 media the eve of the opening of the 2016 Geneva motor show overnight, newly appointed Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller said “this year we intend to solve the diesel issue for our customers”.
“2016 is the year in which we lay the foundations of a better Volkswagen,” he said. “I intend to make Volkswagen a company people trust and love.”
“VW is on the eve of a bright future,” said Mueller, adding that it would involve merging the modern, digital world into the automobile. “This group and its fans can and will leave this difficult stage stronger than we’ve entered it.”
But there is much pain to endure before Volkswagen is clear of the emissions scandal, including potentially billions of dollars in fines, finalising the fixes for 11 million affected cars globally, and coming up with an acceptable emissions fix for US authorities.
Volkswagen this week announced the recall action would start for almost 9000 Australian Amarok utes and that the Passat would be the next diesel-powered Volkswagen to have its software updated.
But the brand is already looking way into the future and sees the emissions scandal – whereby cars were found to have defeat device software to make them pass a test – as an opportunity to further engage with customers.
Mueller said electronics were key to Volkswagen moving beyond the emissions scandal that rolls on.
He promised to more than double the group’s electric car offerings to “more than 20” by 2020, adding some would have an electric range upwards of 500km and be able to be charged in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee.
He also said merging the consumer electronics world with the transport world was a key plank in the brand’s planned fightback, which could take years.
“The digital revolution will be a game changer for the automotive industry,” said Mueller.
Volkswagen said it would have fully autonomous vehicles – without a steering wheel or pedals – “within five years” and that the technology would be popular by 2025.
“By 2025 it will be commonplace to move from A to B in self-driving automobiles,” said Volkswagen’s chief digital officer Joann Jungwirth.