A focus on SUVs and electric tech may save the brand yet.
Volkswagen’s sales and vehicle deliveries have been on an upward trajectory over the past year. And the carmaker has just announced that the 2018 first quarter has been the best in its history. This is surely a sign that the dirty diesel disaster that marred their reputation and share price only a few years ago is being successfully tackled. But how has it managed to come out on top of this multi-billion-dollar mess? Early measures such as vehicle buyback schemes and the recent introduction of a generous new car warranty were the first steps back towards respectability.
The next wave of changes are also now taking effect.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, has focused on long-term sustainability and making Volkswagen fit for the future of mobility. What this translates to is an investment into technologies and models it sees as the future of the automotive landscape. The introduction of four new and updated SUV models have helped VW capitalize on this growing sector and it has also spent hugely on developing its electric range. This has resulted in a slight decline in the operating return of sales, 4.4% as opposed to 2017s figure of 4.6%. But this investment should pay off with the introduction of the I.D. family of electric vehicles in 2020.
Currently, the global increase in VW Group vehicle deliveries (up globally by 5.9% and 10% in the US over the 2017 figures) shows that consumer confidence is returning to the brand, the increased sales have also helped its financial recovery. Hopefully the corporate culture will also shift towards better accountability in the future, although this still remains to be seen. For now, perhaps one positive outcome of dieselgate is that it helped start a new chapter in the automotive industry, one where transparency and real-world consumption figures, through the adoption of the new WLTP standards, are providing us with a more sustainable motoring future.