That other automakers are still grappling with the transformation to electromobility – Volkswagen has already gone one step further. This is roughly how the story should unfold in Wolfsburg: “New Auto” is the name of the strategy with which Europe’s largest automotive group intends to continue in the years to come. In fact, electrification is part of what CEO Herbert Diess calls the “even more radical change” this Tuesday: autonomous driving, in which the driver becomes the passenger. Based on the software, the transition “to significantly safer, smarter and ultimately autonomous vehicles” is possible, according to Diess. And said: “The car has a bright future! Although it will be a completely different car.
Everything will be based on a uniform operating system which will be largely developed in-house and which will be installed in all vehicles of all the brands of the Group from the middle of the decade: whether Audi, Skoda, Seat , VW or Porsche – all vehicles should then be at the so-called level 4 can drive. This means that the car still has pedals and a steering wheel, but ideally it should run largely on its own. At least on most of the world’s highways by 2030, says Diess.
Its IT people are even more confident that even city trips should be possible with robots for the foreseeable future. This is why it is a challenge of different sizes. In the rectangular streets, it is easy, as we find in the USA or in the young Chinese metropolises. But it is foreseeable that Volkswagen will also circulate in European cities. Hamburg is leading the way, where the goal is to start testing in one neighborhood in 2023 and then move forward street by street. In 2025, the buses are expected to operate under the name Moia in regular service.
The future of the automobile is therefore a kind of urban war, especially in cities that have developed. And, they hope within the VW Group, the easier it is, the more data can be collected: Tesla currently has a million vehicles on the road, Diess currently considers the US company to be technologically superior and one of the competitors. the toughest of all. group. But they want to catch up by 2030 – thanks to the mass: up to 40 million vehicles from all brands of the group will then be based on the group’s software platforms, including the ears and eyes which are also installed. Laser cameras or radar systems, for example.
Car owners should benefit from the digital driver, who can book amenities for certain trips if needed. But with its new strategy, VW is also moving towards mobility services. Diess had previously valued the region little, but autonomous driving skills could change everything, his team believes. By the end of the decade, the group “will develop system capabilities for autonomous shuttle fleets”, some of the shared taxis will be owned by the company and others will be sold. Mobility as a service is seen as “an integral part” of the business and can be “very profitable” – also because the digital pilot can potentially be sold to other manufacturers.
Other competitors prefer to focus on the car itself
“Computers will drive much safer than humans,” says Diess – but it’s all about business: VW sees value for customers above all in eliminating human drivers. A one-time investment instead of a regular salary. This is a counter move to German premium rivals BMW and Daimler, which currently speak little of Level 4 and are currently focusing more on the car itself and reducing share offerings.
Volkswagen’s size should also mean that the first transformation – the switch from combustion engines to electric motors – will be a relatively quick financial success. By 2030, half of the cars sold will be electric, it is said. To this end, the group foresees a high common sharing rate, in particular for cells and platforms, much greater than was the case until now for combustion cars. VW is also increasingly producing battery cells itself: factories in Scandinavia, Germany and Spain have already been decided. We can therefore assume that the margins of these two technologies will converge within two to three years, explained Arno Antlitz, chief financial officer at the Group’s board of directors.
In Wolfsburg, they even expect to be able to increase the group’s yield to eight to nine percent. And they believe the auto industry will continue to grow extremely rapidly. The auto industry currently achieves two trillion euros in sales worldwide, says Diess. Also because of the software, it will increase to five billion euros by 2030. They want the double transformation to be an opportunity. There is nothing left.