Volkswagen AG says it will fit particulate filters to petrol engines, advocates independent emissions testing on its cars, and wants to be a leader in vehicle electrification and vehicle autonomy. But key shareholders remain furious over dieselgate.
This is the takeaway from this week’s 56th Volkswagen Annual General Meeting (AGM), during which VW AG chief Matthias Muller outlined the company’s multi-billion euro Strategy 2025 plan to turn itself around in the wake of the emissions saga.
Muller told 3000 shareholders of the Strategy 2025 plan, which made news earlier this week after a number of stakeholders gave senior VW management a verbal belt around the ears over the diesel issue.
According to the VW Group, it will equip new TSI and TFSI petrol engines with particulate filters, like a diesel, starting with the new 1.4-litre engine going first into the 2017 VW Tiguan and Audi A5 in June next year.
Company figures say this will reduce particulate emissions by up to 90 per cent, and that up to seven million Volkswagen vehicles could be equipped with this technology each year by 2022.
The company also said that it advocated the idea that emissions tests “as a general principle” would be externally evaluated by third parties in the future. Real-world random testing of vehicle emissions behaviour on the road will also be introduced, VW said – a bit like PSA Peugeot Citroen’s plan.
“I strongly believe that our industry requires more transparency, courage and openness in dealing with this issue. And this is why we firmly support political initiatives in this area,” Muller claimed.
Another pillar of VW AG will be “second to none” vehicle electrification, as we reported on last week. The company wants to launch 30 fully electric cars by 2025, and for one-third of its global sales to be EVs by 2030, accounting for 2-3 million annual sales.
We are stepping up our efforts accordingly and will launch a multi-billion euro investment program,“ Muller declared. As previously reported, sources indicate that VW may have plans to axe upwards of 40 models globally to divert euros to the EV plan.
Part of the rollout to EVs is the establishment of battery technology — “the key to e-mobility” — as a core competency. Muller said “we will need 150 gigawatt hours of battery capacity by 2025 for our own e-fleet alone”.
“We will examine in detail all strategic options for developing battery technology as a new core competency for the Volkswagen Group. In doing so, we will be scrutinising the entire process chain – from raw material right through to battery production.”
Finally, Muller declared the company also remains “on the ball” in the development of fuel cells, and on a separate note wants to have in-house fully autonomous (self-driving cars) on the market by 2020 — requiring a multi-billion euro investment.
The Volkswagen announcement did not all go swimmingly, though. As reported extensively, VW Group chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch received significant criticism from shareholders at the AGM over the dieselgate saga. Phrases such as “shambles”, “conflict of interest personified” and “collective failure” were reported to have been thrown around.
VW also detailed where it’s at with the recall of about 11 million vehicles affected by the diesel issue.
“The Federal Motor Transport Authority recently issued approval covering approximately 1 million further vehicles – primarily Golf models,” it said.
“This means approval has now been issued for more than 3.7 million affected vehicles, including the VW Passat, Tiguan and Caddy, all variants of the Golf, the SEAT Exeo and the ŠKODA Superb plus various Audi models such as the A3, A4 and Q5.
“We expect the recall campaign to really pick up speed now. Tens of thousands of vehicle owners will be informed in the next weeks and asked to take their vehicles to the workshops. Our customers can rest assured that we will continue to do our utmost to make every effort to execute the recall campaign as quickly, professionally and satisfactorily as possible.”