Electric drive, connected cars, autonomous functions… all buzz words that grab headlines but currently count for little when examining the bottom line.

While all have a future, and the hoo-ha around Volkswagen’s recent ID concept is justified, the profits are all in mainstream models. For VW, that means the best-selling Golf more than any other car.

More than ever, VW must keep selling Golfs. Having the cashflow to continue fuelling the virtuous circle of investing more than rivals in R&D is perhaps even more important than covering the Dieselgate fines to the tune of billions. If the flow of money into new products gets interrupted, customers will soon notice the difference — and the impact will be potentially more long-lasting and ruinous than using a defeat device.

But it's a tough balancing act. While the core products drive sales and profit, the investment needed to develop next-gen technology will be greater than ever. Little wonder VW boss Herbert Diess is already at loggerheads with unions (cutting 30,000 jobs) and targeting production ‘efficiencies’ — and little wonder he could ill-afford images of staff in VW-branded WRC overalls spraying champagne while he makes these cuts.