Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving concept at Sonoma Raceway, July 2015Enlarge Photo
Perhaps the most disruptive of VW’s future plans is autonomous driving, as it has the potential to forever change the car ownership model. Once the domain of science fiction, fully autonomous cars are now on the cusp of entering the mainstream. According to Müller, the technology will be on the market “by the beginning of the next decade.” And Müller is not alone in his thinking. Senior executives from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU], Google and Tesla have provided similar timelines—and IBM and Local Motors are already ready to commercial a fully autonomous minibus.
VW is developing its own autonomous car technology, primarily through Audi, and plans to license the technology to other firms. General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] and Google have similar plans, including offering on-demand autonomous taxi services.
But even with all these new areas of focus VW isn’t abandoning its current competencies. The automaker says vehicles with internal combustion engines will still account for around two thirds of the global new car market by 2030.
Matthias MüllerEnlarge Photo
Müller said VW will continue to reduce the emissions of its internal combustion engines. For example, the automaker will start installing particulate filters on its gasoline models from June 2017. And in the future, VW will rely on independent third-party testing of its emissions.
Finally, Müller provided some initial detail on cost-cutting measures at the automaker. It’s been rumored VW might sell Ducati and some commercial vehicle brands as well as drop more than 40 models from its vast portfolio. However, Müller in his most recent presentation only mentioned consolidating the various component operations, which at present includes 67,000 staff and 26 locations around the globe.
The consolidation “will improve transparency while boosting internal competition,” Müller said. “Anyone familiar with Volkswagen will know that the realignment of the components business is a big step for our company—as is the transformation of our core business as a whole.”