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