GROUP ALLIANCE SET TO BECOME WORLD’S LARGEST EV MAKER
On the same day Volkswagen Group reported solid profits for 2019, the alliance also announced Audi will have a larger role within the group, members of which include Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley.
The Volkswagen Group, in contrast to rivals experiencing downturns chiefly caused by investments in electric-vehicle development, bared a 17.3 percent rise in pre-tax earnings in 2019 — or from €15.6 billion in 2018 to €18.4 billion last year. Audi, for its part, earlier reported its deliveries worldwide increased 1.8 percent in 2019 on the back of strong demand in China, the US and Europe (the carmaker is set to report fiscal figures on March 19.
Audi, which along with Porsche have outpaced rivals in electric vehicle technologies, has been assigned to lead research and development within the Volkswagen Group. At the same time, Volkswagen AG said it plans to increase its shareholding in Audi from the present 99.64 percent to 100 percent in a move called “squeeze-out” in German stock corporation law. The development comes as Audi appoints a new CEO, Markus Duesmann.
Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management at Volkswagen AG and the supervisory board at Audi, said regarding Audi’s strengthened presence in the group; “Given the strong dynamics of change in our industry, we are pooling our strengths in the Volkswagen Group and positioning ourselves competitively for the future. Going forward, the Audi brand, with Markus Duesmann as its new CEO, will take over the lead for research and development in the Volkswagen Group and thus swiftly assume technical leadership.”
Forming a part of the realignment is that Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters will house Volkswagen Group’s new Car Software unit, seen to centralize the brand’s software development activities. The move aims to boost the in-house sharing of car software technologies to at least 60% by 2025.
The Volkswagen Group has also announced plans to produce 26 million emission-free vehicles in the next nine years as it sets to leapfrog Tesla to become the world’s largest electric vehicle car maker.
Other brands belonging in the Volkswagen Group include Bugatti, SEAT, Skoda, MAN, Scania and Ducati.