Volkswagen invested Euro11.5bn in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide, it claims. Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn (right), CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said: “Volkswagen is an innovation think tank. We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.”
According to Winterkorn, “the world’s most innovative company” now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as over 10,000 IT experts, all of whom are working on future mobility such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalization of vehicles and factories. He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. To remain a strong contender in competition with Asia and the USA, Winterkorn called on industry in Europe to “show even more courage and even greater innovative strength. But there is also a need for greater openness and stronger backing from politics and society.”
Winterkorn stressed that “at Volkswagen, technology is never an end in itself. All these technologies serve people, our customers. Because they make driving safer and more comfortable, because they conserve resources and protect the environment, and because they bring together the mobile and the digital worlds.” That is why he would like to see “in Europe in particular, a climate where new technologies are not eyed with suspicion right from the outset”, but rather a climate “where innovations are truly welcome.” As a center of automotive engineering and manufacturing, Europe must, for example, drive forward core technologies such as piloted driving with determination and speed.
Winterkorn added: “It may come as a surprise for you, but I highly welcome the interest of Apple, Google and others in the automobile. Because that means, the car will gain more acceptance from ‘Digital Natives’.”
The company also made a good start to the year in terms of operating performance. The Volkswagen Group delivered over 1.5m vehicles in January and February to customers for the first time in its history. Last year, the Group topped the 10m delivery mark for the first time.