The Volkswagen Group with its headquarters in Wolfsburg is one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. In 2011, the Group increased the number of vehicles delivered to customers to 8.265 million (2010: 7.203 million), corresponding to a 12.3 percent share of the world passenger car market.
In Western Europe over one in five new cars (23.0 percent) comes from the Volkswagen Group. Group sales revenue in 2011 totaled €159 billion (2010: €126.9 billion). Profit after tax in the 2011 financial year amounted to €15.8 billion (2010: €7.2 billion
The Group is made up of ten brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN.
Each brand has its own character and operates as an independent entity on the market. The product spectrum extends from low-consumption small cars to luxury class vehicles. In the commercial vehicle sector, the product offering ranges from pick-ups to buses and heavy trucks.
The Volkswagen Group is also active in other fields of business, manufacturing large-bore diesel engines for marine and stationary applications (turnkey power plants), turbochargers, turbomachinery (steam and gas turbines), compressors and chemical reactors, and also producing vehicle transmissions, special gear units for wind turbines, slide bearings and couplings as well as testing systems for the mobility sector.
The Group operates 94 production plants in 18 European countries and a further eight countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Each working day, 501,956 employees worldwide produce some 34,500 vehicles, are involved in vehicle-related services or work in the other fields of business. The Volkswagen Group sells its vehicles in 153 countries.
It is the goal of the Group to offer attractive, safe and environmentally sound vehicles which are competitive on an increasingly tough market and which set world standards in their respective classes.
Volkswagen Group has a designated Representative for External Relations and Government Relations worldwide who reports directly to the CEO of Volkswagen AG, Prof. Dr. Martin. This function is part of the Group Communications
Volkswagen Position on Key issues
Intellectual Property: To ensure the sound growth and continued vitality of the global automobile industry as well as for the sake of the economic development of all nations, respect for intellectual property is critical in industrialized and developing countries alike. Respect for intellectual property encourages much needed industrial development while also upholding the interests of consumers. Respect for intellectual property also accelerates the transfer of advanced technology and the direct investment necessary o support progress in developing countries. Intellectual property infringement has now reached a scale that cannot possibly be ignored. The circulation of counterfeit replacement parts, motorcycles and motor vehicles lacking the quality and performance of original products threatens both consumer safety and environmental protection. Governments of all countries should work cooperatively to establish and enforce intellectual property laws, while steadfastly opposing the proliferation of counterfeit products.
Advanced Technology and Improved Fuel Quality: Volkswagen and other automakers are working on multiple pathways to produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient advanced technology vehicles, including hybrid-electric, clean diesel, hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engi!nes and fuel cell-powered vehicles. Consumer incentives from governments can help spur sales of these vehicles. These incentives should be technology neutral. Consumers and the marketplace should choose which technologies make sense for them, and the governments should not pick winners and losers. In addition to market incentives, much remains to be done to develop the infrastructure to support advanced technology vehicles. Today’s ultra-clean vehicles need clean fuels with consistent quality. The World-Wide Fuel Charter provides a guide to understanding the fuel quality needs of the industry, as well as a road map toward global harmonization of fuel quality.
Sustainable Mobility and Road Traffic Safety: Sustainable mobility focuses on moving people and goods in an affordable and safe manner, while meeting economic, environmental and social goals. To advance sustainable mobility, there is a need for a coordinated effort among automakers, public authorities and other stakeholders. Motor vehicle safety is among the highest priorities of automakers around the globe and automakers are vigorously pursuing safety advancements, collectively and individually. Auto safety has improved significantly due to a mix of regulation, consumer education and volunteering initiatives by automakers. Future progress will occur at a rapid pace in response to market demands. Still, road safety remains a challenge, requiring an integrated approach with the involvement of many stakeholders. Automakers play an important role in vehicle design and performance. The industry sees opportunity to partner with the World Health Organization, the Global Road Safety Partnership and other important stakeholders, including those responsible for designing and building safe roadways, the governments responsible for enforcing safety laws, the emergency response community, and finally the driving public.
Climate Change: Although CO2 and other greenhouse gases are recognized as the leading cause of climate change, total worldwide emissions of these gases continue to increase. The automobile industry must respond to this challenge by implementing mid- and long-term measures to reduce CO2 emissions on a global basis, ensuring the sustainability of road transport. Reducing CO2 emissions will require continued improvements in fuel efficiency in gasoline and diesel vehicles, as well as advances both in hybrid (including plug-in) and next-generation clean-diesel vehicle technologies and in the development of alternative-fuel vehicles such as fuel-cell and hydrogen vehicles. In order to reduce not only CO2 emissions but also oil dependence, progress must be made in the development of alternative fuels (and batteries) in parallel with innovations in vehicle technologies. To facilitate the use of alternative fuels in the road transport sector, issues such as their uneven global availability, stable supply, the infrastructure required for their distribution, and the reliability of fuel quality are critical. The automobile industry will make every possible effort with respect to developing the next-generation environmentally friendly technologies required and promoting the application of those technologies. However, reducing road-transport CO2 emissions cannot be the responsibility of vehicle manufacturers alone. Responding effectively to climate change will require an integrated approach involving all the stakeholders concerned, including governments for the establishment of infrastructures and incentive measures for vehicle purchasers/users, the energy industry for the supply of appropriate fuels, and drivers for appropriate vehicle use. Moreover, many of the technologies required are still at an early stage of development, making it difficult at this point in time to determine their future scope of application. Further, their full-fledged development represents an enormous and largely uncertain financial investment for individual vehicle manufacturers. Governments would therefore have a particularly important role to play in providing R&D incentives to vehicle manufacturers and, in a collaborative effort with research institutes (whether public or private), in promoting the development of basic common technologies
Greening of the industry: While the principles of sustainable development tend to highlight automobile firms’ social and environmental responsibilities, the current crisis has focused attention on the economic sustainability of many of the firms within the industry. With governments at both regional and national level called upon to invest heavily to preserve the automobile sector, a political dimension of sustainability has also emerged. It is no longer only the traditional participants within the automobile system that are involved as new actors emerge whose future role within the industry is generating much speculation and interest from both investors and researchers.
The research of a way out of the crisis has led policy makers to seek measures to support their automobile industries. Such measures have been implemented in multiple forms and, in some cases, involving massive state investment throughout Europe, in the U.S., Brazil, South Korea and Japan. The question is whether these measures are leading to sustainable configurations both for the industries and the national economies concerned. The economic, environmental, social and political issues that were already raised before the crisis by the greening of the automobile will also have to be recast within these new scenarios. The measures adopted have often generated heated debate among different stakeholders, highlighting the challenges of “political sustainability” that face regulators as they seek to conciliate environmental performance on the one hand and national economic performance on the other.
New categories of actors are entering the automobile arena as part of the search for alternative technologies and as the automobile’s place in the overall system of mobility is being revisited. Understanding the importance and the consequences of these on-going changes requires an analysis of the strategies of these new actors and the alliances and conflicts these strategies create in their relationships with traditional automobile firms. In this respect, the case of the electric vehicle springs naturally to mind as it creates market opportunities for battery manufacturers, energy providers, mobility specialists and infrastructure management companies. Other categories of new actors may be involved in other new business areas.
Improving the environmental performance of the automobile is not simply a technological issue. What is at stake is the role of the automobile in the broader system of mobility that is situated in a broader context of public policy on urbanism and regional planning.
Given that automobile production is frequently concentrated in specific geographic areas, who are thus heavily dependent on the activity, regional policy makers have been very reactive in proposing initiatives in response to the current crisis. The objectives of the different measures adopted have varied between those that seek to improve the competitive position of different sites in light of falling volumes and those that seek to insert the automobile industry into a broader movement towards “green growth”. The measures have also varied in terms of the operational means adopted as local policy makers do not all have access to the same resources and competencies. In addition to concerns about production and associated regional pressures, local authorities are also now entering the decision-making arena as they tend to be responsible for the road and transport networks that will be key to future choices in relation to overall mobility. Understanding regional policies and initiatives is thus central to analysing the reactions to the current crisis and the potential new forms of competition that will emerge in the future.