Volkswagen Group investments for eco-friendly products research and development

The Volkswagen Group is investing more than ever before in eco-friendly vehicles. Last year, Group research and development expenditure rose by 15 percent to the record value of €10.2 billion. “The lion’s share is going to ?green? technologies,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, explained before the opening of the Geneva Motor Show. He said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

Successful interim assessment on the way to becoming the ecological leader. Winterkorn added: “Volkswagen doesn’t just talk – we also act. Last year, CO2 emissions by our EU new vehicle fleet averaged 128 grams/km. That means we are already well under the statutory threshold set for 2015.” He said there had also been considerable progress in production: “We are taking great strides towards our goal of making our factories 25 percent more eco-friendly. Specifically, we aim to reduce energy and water consumption, as well as CO2 emissions, by 25 percent by 2018. Thanks to the creativity and dedication of our employees, we are already halfway to achieving this goal. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index also provides convincing proof that we set the ecological standards. The world’s most important sustainability ranking listed Volkswagen in first place in 2013.”

Volkswagen_T-ROC (4)The world’s largest low-CO2 fleet already on the road
Customers can currently choose between 54 model variants from Volkswagen Group brands that emit less than 100 grams CO2/km. 324 model variants are below 120 grams. Winterkorn: “The Volkswagen Group offers the world’s largest low-CO2 fleet to have already taken to the road.” The range includes 3-liter cars such as the Golf TDI BlueMotion1 or the Audi A3 TDI ultra2 as well as “3-euro cars” such as the eco up!3, which can travel 100 kilometers for about three euros. He said that the plug-in hybrids Golf GTE4 and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron5 were now being added to the “widest range of electric vehicles” – from the e-up!6 to the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid7. Winterkorn: “Further high-efficiency models such as the Audi A8, A6 and Q7 or the plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat are to follow soon. Because this technology has a future.”

Modular toolkits safeguard future orientation
The Group’s modular strategy in production means that it will be possible to electrify more than 40 models over the next few years. Winterkorn: “Our modular toolkits place us in a position to develop and build our cars faster, more flexibly and more economically than in the past. We can offer even greater variety – as well as producing niche models in a profitable way. Our toolkits also mean that we can offer all our innovations and powertrains in all segments and markets within a very short space of time.”

Life cycle assessments
Winterkorn announced that Volkswagen would consistently expand its sustainability program. “We are not satisfied with just making eco-friendly cars at eco-friendly plants. We conceive and shape mobility in holistic terms. From power generation, through development, production, sale and operation to the recycling stage. With an environmental strategy that is firmly anchored and measurable with respect to all the brands and regions of the Volkswagen Group.” According to Winterkorn, a life cycle assessment, i.e. a balance sheet indicating the environmental impact of a vehicle over its entire life cycle, would be produced for more and more vehicles, in line with the life cycle engineering approach.

Implementation of the environmental strategy along the value stream
The environmental strategy of the Group is therefore being implemented in a binding, measurable way in all relevant business areas along the value stream. For this reason, the high sustainability requirements of the Group are now a firm component of contracts with suppliers. Volkswagen is also the first German automaker to have joined the Clean Shipping Network in order to analyze and reduce the environmental impact of marine transport. Another example is energy efficiency advice for all Volkswagen brand dealerships in Germany, with a view to reducing the CO2 emissions of partner companies by 25 percent by 2020.