The Volkswagen Group has had a very bumpy ride over the past two years to say the least, but things are finally starting to look up for the European auto giant. As it reported in its annual press conference last week, record-breaking sales of 10.3million vehicles in 2016 show that it’s made a pretty healthy recovery following the Dieselgate scandal. However, many who are following the global auto industry say that the company shouldn’t relax just yet.
At the conference, representatives and board members of Volkswagen Group congratulated themselves on their spectacular recovery, without mentioning the massive bill following the emissions scandal of 20million euros.
When they opened the floor to questions, one journalist asked if the group had any plans to follow Peugeot-Citroen’s lead in publishing cold, hard fuel economy figures for their models. Volkswagen’s French competitor issued realistic data on more than 1,000 of its cars a few weeks ago, which was produced using a universal test known as the Real Driving Emissions standard, or RDE.
This new RDE method of testing isn’t quite as exact as the usual lab work that determines CO2 emissions and fuel economy. However, it’s still a very useful guide to know how much NOx cars are emitting on real-world roads, and how many miles to the gallon they’re really giving drivers. Anyone who’s been relying on components like an SCT tuner to assure good fuel economy may be pleased with the response!
VW Group CEO, Matthias Müller, said that they’re certainly considering the move PSA has taken, but didn’t announce any firm dates or plans. While this is encouraging to hear for anyone who’s loyal to a VW Group badge, it’s unclear why the company’s representatives would be so cryptic about such a simple process.
The auto-industry giant, with its decades of prestige and success behind it, was quick to acknowledge their difficult position. Representatives at the press conference admitted that they had a long way to go in regaining the trust of both their existing customer base and the public at large. Obviously, this is going to be no easy task, but surely giving us some fuel economy figures which we know we can trust would be a good start!
Although they may be keeping their cards close to their chest in this particular area, Volkswagen Group has made some progress towards repairing their image in the EV area. Recently, Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management at Audi, has announced that they plan to ditch up to two-fifths of its power train models, thereby freeing up resources which they can use for advancing their currently tiny fleet of hybrid and electric models.
The company has also announced plans for a partnership with BMW, Ford and Daimler, as part of a project for setting up convenient charging points along various highways in Europe, thereby mitigating the issue of EVs that lose their charge on long journeys. As the auto industry and global business in general swings towards greener energy sources, this could be the thing that saves the company’s reputation.