The new chief of the Volkswagen Group, Herbert Diess, has said that the company must change from “a slow, lumbering supertanker to a powerful group of speedboats.”
Speaking for the first time since his appointment last month, addressing the car maker’s shareholders at its annual general meeting, Diess outlined the importance of changing the corporate culture following the Dieselgate crisis and his plans for the future. In reference to his “supertanker” comment, he said: “Decision-making is too slow.”
He also acknowledged Volkswagen’s part in the mass decline in diesel sales. “As Europe’s biggest car maker, we need to break new ground for diesel engines. It's due in part to us that diesel has wrongfully fallen into disrepute.”
Diess added that he thought bans on diesel, such as those that have been suggested in Germany, UK and Norway, were “the worst possible solution”.
Diess said the Volkswagen Group aims to conclude all fixes to affected diesel cars this year. So far, recalls stand at 69% complete worldwide and 76% complete in Europe.
He claimed that the pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) had been cut by 30% on cars fixed so far and added that 200,000 old diesel cars had been scrapped in Germany under scrappage schemes.
“We’re still investing in petrol, diesel and CNG," Diess said. "Future engines will emit 6% less CO2 and up to 70% fewer pollutants (including NOx) compared with today’s".
He admitted that the diesel crisis had been “a painful watershed”, and said: “We must and will do everything we can to make sure nothing like this ever happens again in this company.”
Diess also spoke at length about the need to have a good corporate culture. “Sustainable financial success is only possible if we have a healthy corporate culture," he said. "It's a first priority for me. The Volkswagen Group needs to become more honest and more truthful. We need to be an upstanding corporate citizen. We need to be role models for our employees. That means we at Volkswagen walk the talk.”
New structure for all Volkswagen Group brands
In order to be able to make decisions quicker and more efficiently, Diess outlined a new company structure consisting of seven clusters that incorporate all areas of the business. These are:
- Truck & Bus: MAN, Scania
- Procurement/ Components
- Volkswagen Financial Services
Board members responsible for a brand will also have group responsibility, explained Diess. For example, Porsche boss and board member Oliver Blume will be responsible for group production and Audi boss and board member Rupert Stadler will assume responsibility for group sales.