Martin Winterkorn has laid out his vision of the car industry's digital future
New cars will have to be launched at a greater rate and with greater innovation than ever before – with updates available via downloads – if the industry is to thrive in future, according to VW Group boss Martin Winterkorn.
Speaking on the eve of the Geneva motor show, Winterkorn highlighted the Group's relationship with Google as an example of how car makers will have to be "faster, more agile and more open to new ideas than at any time since the advent of the car".
In particular, Winterkorn claimed that car makers would have to reduce model cycles well below the current rates – typically seven years – be more willing to introduce all-new models and variants of existing models and offer customers a high-tech ownership experience.
"People's expectations are changing and the digital revolution is realigning how we all live," he said. "The auto industry must not close its eyes to these developments. We must embark on new actions.
"For instance, we must consider the consumer expectations. Model cycles must be much shorter. We must react faster to trends and be more flexible in what we offer. At least part of a facelift, for instance, might be downloadable while the customer is in their garage.
"Cars will become mobile computers. That will be revolutionary for how we operate in future, but gives us an opportunity to add value to our vehicles. These are questions at the core of our industry."
Winterkorn stressed that he felt the VW Group was ideally placed to benefit from the shift in customer demands, highlighting the strides the company has made with its modular platform strategy.
"Let me be clear, I am not fearful of this change," he said. "The modular system is key to managing our future, which is in our hands. It makes it possible to offer more variety and profitably build nice models or offer all types of powertrain across all cars. It gives us opportunities."