After a long run of success that has brought it within striking distance of becoming the world’s largest automaker, the Volkswagen Group is looking for additional growth again in 2015.
Martin Winterkorn, VW’s chief executive officer, acknowledged during the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Berlin the German automotive giant was facing challenges as economic growth slows in China as well economic difficulties in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
“We are being deliberate rather more cautious – despite excellent figures we always have a good grip on reality,” Winterkorn said. “Our stated goal for fiscal year 2015 is to achieve further growth both in terms of volumes and in our sales revenue and operating profit.”
Disciplined cost and investment management and the continuous optimization of processes remain integral elements of the Volkswagen Group’s Strategy 2018, he added.
“We want to get better in every respect in 2015 and take the next step towards the top,” he said.
Volkswagen’s portfolio of electric vehicles is among the largest in the automotive industry, from pure-play electric cars like the e-up! and the e-Golf, through plug-in hybrids such as the A3 e-tron, the Golf and the Passat GTE, the Panamera E-Hybrid, or the Cayenne S E‑Hybrid, down to technological trailblazers like the XL 1and the Porsche 918 Spyder.
Another example is automated driving. “We will be among the first to successfully market this technology with Audi and Volkswagen,” Winterkorn added.
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Winterkorn said VW plans to “optimize” global plant utilization will be optimized, eliminate models that no longer match demand and return expectations and trim costs by 1 billion euros.
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“Our industry is facing radical changes that could be called historic. This is why we do not just have our sights set on the second half of the game. We are already looking far ahead, to the next season,” he said.
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The Volkswagen Group’s sales revenue increased by 2.8% to 202.5 billion euros in fiscal year 2014, while the group’s operating profit rose by 1 billion euros to a record 12.7 billion euros.
Volkswagen sold 3.7 million units in China last year; this was a 12.4% increase year-on-year but the group’s sales revenue and operating profit do not include the Chinese joint ventures. But VW executives told shareholders the group’s proportionate share of operating profit in China rose by over 20% to approximately 5.2 billion euros while the proportionate share of the operating profit of the Chinese joint ventures, would be almost 18 billion euros.