Mr. Brandstätter, what does “New Volkswagen” mean? What does that stand for?
Ralf Brandstätter: In order to understand how “New Volkswagen” was created, we have to take a step back, to autumn 2015. The economic situation of the Volkswagen brand is not good: our products lack profitability. And core regions have been in decline for years. The brand urgently needs to invest in future technologies – but it lacks the money to do so. It was about the existence of Volkswagen. Volkswagen quickly needed a substantial plan to survive the crisis and become viable for the future. With the Transform 2025+ strategy developed at the time, we want to bring ‘New Volkswagen’ to life.
And then the diesel scandal shakes the company ...
That’s right. We all knew this wasn’t just a violent quake. That was an eruption that engulfed us: Now there is a threat of fines, lawsuits running into the billions and lasting damage to our most important asset: the trust of our customers. What began as a fundamental crisis, became a catalyst for Volkswagen’s transformation.
What were the main decisions taken at the crisis meeting in autumn 2015?
The electrification of our vehicles is the only sensible way to achieve the CO2 targets without diesel. We knew it wouldn’t do us any good to simply electrify the Transverse Modular Toolkit (MQB). With it, we would not be competitive either in terms of cost or range. The idea of the MEB, a pure electric platform, was born. The elimination of the combustion engine powertrain gives us a completely new vehicle architecture: we can thus offer the interior space of a Passat, within the exterior dimensions of a Golf, increase battery capacity and keep costs low. The MEB therefore offers our customers real added value. To make this possible, even with the available resources, there had to be tough cuts. For example, the Phaeton was discontinued – so that electric mobility could achieve a breakthrough.