The Volkswagen brand has lived through an eventful 2018. Senior management at the Wolfsburg car maker gave journalists an end of year update on production and future plans.

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Arno Antlitz: An open, less hierarchical and agile Volkswagen is urgently needed to meet future revenue and investment targets.

The VW board made it clear that in the coming year many challenges still await the world’s largest carmaker. “Our industry is in transition. We do not know exactly what will happen in the future. We have to significantly increase our pace of transformation, “said Ralf Brandstätter, COO, Volkswagen brand.

Volkswagen attaches great importance to electromobility and digitization. From 2025, the group wants to sell one million EVs annually.

To reach this target,  Volkswagen is investing nine billion euros in electromobility over the next four years. Another two billion will flow into charging infrastructure and digital ecosystems. “We want to set an industry standard for electromobility,” said Arno Antlitz, Volkswagen board member for controlling and accounting.

The financial resources for future investments should be generated from the core business, but declining sales, especially in the domestic market of Germany and the growth market of China are putting the carmaker under pressure.

Delayed WLTP proceedings in Germany caused a significant drop in sales in September and October this year. The Chinese market is currently under heavy pressure from the trade conflict with the US, according to Volkswagen.

In November alone, 8% fewer vehicles were sold in China than in November 2017. Overall, however, the number of cars sold in China was stable at the previous year’s level of 2.8 million.

In total, Volkswagen has sold 5.7 million vehicles worldwide so far in 2018, up 1.2% year on year. “It will now depend on December as we close the fiscal year. We still lack 530,000 deliveries to beat the record result from 2017. I am confident we could still do that,” said Volkswagen Sales Director Jürgen Stackmann.

By 2022, Volkswagen is targeting an operating return of 6%. Efficiency gains of 30% and the reduction in complexity in the model portfolio should free up additional funds for future investments.

“But we realise that without the often cited, but urgently needed cultural change to an open, less hierarchical, agile Volkswagen, we will not be able to do that”, said Arno Antlitz.