While the technical solutions for Europe are ready and their implementation is to begin this month, Volkswagen is working intensively on solutions for its US customers. Müller emphasized that the Group is in an ongoing constructive dialog with the responsible authorities, namely the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Concepts for solutions would be presented as soon as these are fully approved by the authorities.
Against the backdrop of the most recent turmoil, the CEO was pleased with the past year's delivery figures. Müller said that 9.93 million cars delivered to customers worldwide was a solid sales performance. In the US, the 2015 delivery figures even rose slightly to around 600,000 vehicles. The CEO expressly thanked customers in the US for their loyalty in this difficult phase.
For its part, Volkswagen is firmly standing by the plans already announced to expand its business in North America. In addition to the previous investments of more than $1 billion at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen is planning to invest a further $900 million in the production of a new mid-size SUV, which is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. Volkswagen will thus be creating approximately 2,000 new jobs in the US.
Production of the Audi Q5 in San José, Mexico, will also commence this spring as planned. Porsche Cars North America already opened its new US headquarters and Customer Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia, last year, with the sports car manufacturer investing $100 million. Another element of the Group's North American strategy is the long version of the new Tiguan, which is slated to roll off the assembly line at the plant in Puebla, Mexico, starting in 2017. However, Müller admitted that "Volkswagen must further deepen its understanding of the United States." Ultimately, the new development center in Chattanooga is intended to help accomplish this objective.
Müller identified the Volkswagen Group's most important task in 2016 as winning back trust. He said this not only involved technical solutions for the vehicles affected by the emissions issue, but also reestablishing credibility, especially by uncovering the full truth of what happened. In addition, Müller reiterated that the Volkswagen Group will undergo fundamental realignment in terms of its structure and culture, as well as its future strategy, which is to be presented in the middle of 2016 and will provide answers to the central challenges facing the industry. The Volkswagen Group's objective is to help shape the future of mobility with courage and determination. This will be assisted by a Group-wide digitalization initiative, among other things. The Group will also roll out a total of 20 more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by 2020. Summing up, Müller said: "Right now, I see a great opportunity to embark on a new era of mobility – and to build a new and even stronger Volkswagen."