German car giant to set up new 'digitalisation' centres in Europe, USA and China; targets 300-mile range from electric vehicles and self-driving tech
Sam Sheehan
29 February 2016

Volkswagen has announced it will bring autonomous cars to the global market by the year 2025 at the VW Group presentation on the eve of the Geneva motor show.

CEO Matthias Müller said the brand aims to offer fully digitalised cars faster than its competition, and is investing in three Volkswagen Group Future Centres located in Germany, the US and China to develop relevant technology.

Müller explained that the carmaker needed to adapt its range so that future “customers, society and industry can benefit”. He suggested this shift would result in a line-up of cars that offer increasing amounts of self-driving ability, as well as connected technology and sustainable drivetrains.

VW Group is aiming to become the world’s “leading mobility provider”, and wants technology developed at its three new centres to make it to market by 2025. These centres will head research and development in new software for electronic vehicles and self-driving cars. It ambitiously wants to add 20 more electronic and plug-in hybrid models to its brands by the year 2020.

By 2025 self-driving cars in inner cities will be "common", according to head of digitilisation strategy Johann Jungwirth.

"Autonomous cars will revolutionise cities, going from crowded to empty by 2025 as cars park outside the city limits," Jungwirth said, also highlighting that those self-driving cars would be able to charge themselves while they wait.

The carmaker believes autonomous technology can save 1.25million lives because a reported 91% of accidents are down to human error. "Robots don't drink, get tired or make mistakes," explained Müller. He also said that people spend an average of 37,668 hours of their life driving a car. "Autonomous technology gives this time back."

He went on to say that all-electric ranges of over 500km (311 miles) are feasible by the end of the decade. “Charging will only take as long as a coffee break. In the long term, an electric car will cost less than an internal combustion engine car.”

Nevertheless, VW's CEO did admit that in the coming years, conventionally powered cars would continue to coexist alongside alternative fuelled ones. “Our experts have developed fascinating technologies – from three- to 16-cylinders engines. And here, too, we can and will get even better.”

The manufacturer did not provide an update on the emissions scandal, with Müller instead saying that a substantial report will be published in "the near future".

"We will not be paralysed by the crisis," he added. "Quite the opposite, we must use it to leapfrog the next technical innovations.

"We know the public doesn't have much patience but it is best to let the external investigators do their job as well as they can. 2016 is the year where we intend to solve the problem of our diesel engines and lay the foundations for a better Volkswagen."

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Comments
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1 March 2016

"CEO Matthias Müller said the brand aims to offer fully digitalised cars faster than its competition" Oh dear, hasn't the company learned anything? Volkswagen's big problem in recent years is that it has rushed too many things to the market without proper testing and development, leaving its customers to take the consequences. The whole emissions saga was because it couldn't wait and wanted to steal sales from the competition to become number one. Looks like we're just going to see more of the same.

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