You would have thought the VW Group's board members could have raised a smile at today's announcement of their record sales and profits - but then perhaps they are used to taking such good news in their stride.

Instead, the nine men charged with revealing the figures sat stoney faced, taking turns to read from scripts. And after each bit of good news, came the same message: "We are on the right road to success, we are not there yet."

Presumably they were leaving the celebrations to the 500,000 or so workers who were getting news of a bonus payment of more than £6000 each off the back of a profit-sharing scheme, a figure up 90 per cent year-on-year.

Much of the management's caution comes back to chairman Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn's publicly stated goal of making the VW Group sustainably the world's largest car maker by 2018 - by which he means consistently the biggest on merit, not because of problems that befall its rivals (the Japanese tsunami being a case in point). They are not there yet, so the message was one of an unrelenting quest to improve.

How will they achieve this? “By building the best cars and attracting the best workers,” effectively summarises Winterkorn’s view, but of course – right though he is - it’s not that simple.