Audi will take the lead on research and development within the Volkswagen Group, as the car giant aims to further pool the resources of its brands to speed investment in future technologies.
The announcement was made as the Volkswagen Group released its 2019 financial results, with operating profits rising 22% to 16.9 billion euros (£14.45 billion).
The VW Group, which also includes Volkswagen, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and Bentley, is investing heavily in R&D to develop new technology for future cars, such as electrification, connectivity and autonomy.
Audi has worked with Porsche to develop the PPE platform for premium and large electric cars, and when new CEO Markus Duesmann assumes his role on 1 April, the brand will take over the lead for research and development. Audi will also become the focus of the VW Group’s new Car.Software company, which is centralising development of in-car software.
VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said: “Given the strong dynamic of change in our industry, we are pooling our strengths in the Volkswagen Group and positioning ourselves competitively for the future.”
Audi’s outgoing CEO, Bram Schot, said: “It is exactly the right way not to stick to the organisational status quo, but to consistently exploit the advantages of the group’s network. With a greater job split at the group, we can manage future issues more agilely and flexibly.”
The VW Group has also announced it is planning to buy the 0.36% of Audi shares that it does not currently own, increasing its holding in the firm to 100%.
Sales rise fuels VW Group profit growth
The VW Group’s 22% rise in profits was a result of strong sales of higher-margin cars, particularly SUVs. The group sold a total of 10,975,000 cars in 2019, up 1.3% on the previous year, with its sales revenue of £215.7 billion a 7.1% increase on 2018.
The firm’s profit was also helped by a dip in payouts and costs related to Dieselgate. It spent 2.3 billion euros (£1.96bn) on such special items in 2019, compared with 3.2 billion euros (£2.73bn) in 2018.