Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen!
And welcome to Volkswagen!
As you are well aware, our brand is facing quite some challenges. But we are making good progress, creating a new and even stronger Volkswagen.
Sales are rising. In 2016, worldwide deliveries increased by 2.8 percent to 6 million vehicles. The regions are recovering. In the United States and in South America, we are growing with double-digit figures in the recent months.
And profitability is making progress, too. Although we had to deal with pressure on margins, we have kept our operating results in 2016 stable, mainly by cutting costs. In Germany alone, we cut fixed costs by about 300 million euro – the first decrease since 2007.
In a nutshell: Our work is already paying off. We have put ourselves in an excellent starting position for 2017.
And, Ladies and Gentlemen, we will gain even more momentum with our global product offensive.
In recent months, we have talked a lot about the future of the Volkswagen brand, about the I.D. and the I.D. BUZZ. And we stand by our promise: From 2020 onwards, we will launch the fully electric, fully connected car for everyone.
Now here in Geneva we are turning the spotlight to our near future, to the cars of 2017. We present the biggest product offensive in our brand's history. This year alone, we bring more than ten new vehicles on the road. Five of them are all-new vehicles without a predecessor. And two of them are here on stage today.
The Tiguan Allspace offers everything that you love about the Tiguan. In addition, it has much more space – for a third row of seats, for luggage, for bicycles.
The Arteon is Volkswagen's new, exciting top-of-the-line model. The Arteon has the proportions of a Gran Turismo, the sleek roof-line makes it absolutely beautiful.
At the same time, there's plenty of room for up to five people – plus their luggage. Beautiful and functional: That's a winning combination. And of course, the Arteon offers the very latest in infotainment and semi-automated driving.
It's the perfect car for people who appreciate both great style and great value for money. People who listen to their heart and to their brain. Until now, they had to make a decision: Either, or. The Arteon now offers both. That is how we're challenging the premium carmakers.
And, Ladies and Gentlemen, there are many more great new cars coming out this year.
The Golf and the e-Golf, ready to dominate their segment for years to come, just launched last week with great customer reaction. The Atlas, boosting sales in the United States, also very well received by the American press and public. The new Polo and the Polo GTI, now built on the MQB platform and much more technologically advanced. The up! GTI, just as emotional as the very first GTI 40 years ago.
The Phideon plug-in hybrid, our new flagship in China. The Jetta, our cool car for the young crowd in the U.S. The Virtus, our first MQB product for Brazil to regain strength in the region. The new T-Roc, a Golf-sized SUV, another milestone for our brand. And the new Touareg, becoming our brand's new top model.
As you can see, Ladies and Gentleman: The Volkswagen brand is on the move. We are moving forward with new, emotional products. And we are realigning the whole brand, making it much more competitive and future-oriented.
I'm sure: 2017 will be an excellent year for the Volkswagen brand.
We will grow worldwide.
We will gain market share.
We will improve profitability.
We will come back in North and South America.
And we will push ahead with our plan for the future.
The Volkswagen brand is coming back!
Thank you very much!