2016 was a demanding year for the Volkswagen Group, but a very successful one as well. In a year strongly marked by efforts to process the diesel crisis, and in spite of the headwind in important markets, the Volkswagen Group put up a strong performance in operating business, setting new records in unit sales, sales revenue and operating profit before special items.
"Over 10.3 million customers worldwide placed their trust in us last year. We are thankful for that. We see this trust in our brands and product as a mission to continue developing and building the best vehicles here and now. There will be no letting up in our present core business. But Volkswagen will work just as resolutely and passionately on the future of mobility", Matthias Müller said.
"TOGETHER – Strategy 2025" defines the path to the future
This year alone, Group brands will be introducing some 60 new vehicles to customers all over the world. "Notwithstanding all reforms and the pace we will be setting in the coming years, we will always strive to continue building on the strengths of our vehicles. Mobility, innovations, technology and safety for many will remain part of our DNA", Müller emphasized.
At the same time, the Volkswagen Group will continue to work intensively on the key topics of the future which are also set out in "TOGETHER – Strategy 2025". The strong push for e-mobility will continue unabated: more than 30 purely battery-powered vehicles will be launched by 2025. In addition to the new business field for mobility solutions, battery technology, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence will become new core competences at Volkswagen. To that end, a total of 37 competence centers and digital labs all over the world – from San Francisco to Berlin and Beijing – are developing solutions for tomorrow's digital world.
Sedric: Foretaste and promise for the longer-term future
Automated driving is an important core competence for the future and an area of intense activity. "Audi and Volkswagen have long been pioneers in autonomous driving. For us, that underpins our claim to play a proactive part in shaping the next evolutionary stages on the road to the self-driving car and to take these cars into production for our customers. We believe in the future of this technology and in its long-term revolutionary potential", Müller said. The CEO announced that the Group would be investing several billion euros in this core technology over the coming years, and was also recruiting top specialists as well as pooling its strengths in the Group.
With Sedric – the Group's first self-driving car – the Volkswagen Group is giving a concrete foretaste of Level 5 automated driving (the highest stage of automation) in Geneva. It only takes a single touch of the OneButton for the car to drive up to collect its passenger – all-electric, 100% connected and fully autonomous. Sedric independently performs all driving tasks; it is smart – and has no steering wheel, pedals or cockpit.
"We are convinced that fully-automated vehicles will make life in our cities better, more eco-friendly and above all safer. Sedric gives the first concrete foretaste of that today. Sedric is a trailblazer and idea platform for autonomous driving. Many elements and functions of this concept car will reappear in vehicles from our brands in the coming years", Müller commented.
Study stands for a new self-image of the Volkswagen Group
Sedric is, however, more than just a study, it is the first concept car from the Volkswagen Group. It was conceived, developed and built at the Volkswagen Group Future Center in Potsdam in collaboration with Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg. Sedric demonstrates how a new integrated mobility system could function in future.
"To avoid any misunderstanding: the Volkswagen Group will not be building its own cars in the future, either. That is something our brands excel in. But our concept car stands for a new self-image and a new form of collaboration and know-how transfer in the Group", the CEO concluded.
Going forward, the Volkswagen Group will play a greater role as a catalyst and an incubator for ideas, looking far into the future and combining the creativity, competence and knowledge of the Group family and subsequently sharing this with the brands. As a result, innovations will be delivered to customers even faster.
The Volkswagen Group with its headquarters in Wolfsburg is one of the world's leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. The Group comprises twelve brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN. The Group operates 120 production plants in 20 European countries and a further 11 countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Every weekday, over 610,000 employees worldwide produce nearly 42,000 vehicles, and work in vehicle-related services or other fields of business. The Volkswagen Group sells its vehicles in 153 countries. With its "TOGETHER – Strategy 2025" future program, the Volkswagen Group is paving the way for the biggest change process in its history: the realignment to become a globally leading provider of sustainable mobility.