Matthias Muller is officially the new VW Group CEO, but the company's supervisory board is instituting sweeping changes to the corporate structure. Michael Horn remains the boss in the US, but North America is now organized into a new business unit under the current Skoda chairman.
Volkswagen admits that 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide could have software capable of avoiding emissions compliance. The EPA is now checking the 3.0-liter V6 in Porsche and Audi models to make sure it's not affected as well.
Despite the Volkswagen Phaeton suffering poor sales and losing money, Volkswagen is committed to the idea and wants to build another generation of the luxury sedan. It could cost the company an estimated $737 million to do it, while already having the Audi A8 to fill a similar role.
Crossovers are one of the dominant global vehicle segments of the moment, and Volkswagen is realizing that to grow sales as quickly as it wants, the business needs more of them in the lineup. However, the US might miss out on some of this CUV bonanza because the company is still waffling over where to build the Crossblue.
Financially, things are looking up for Volkswagen Group overall, yet deliveries are still falling in the Americas. Worldwide, the automotive giant's profits after taxes rose 26.8 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 2.47 billion euros ($3.4 billion). Total sales revenue was up 2.7 percent to 47.8 billion euro ($66 billion).
It's a good time to be in the luxury car business. In Volkswagen Group's financial report for the 2013 fiscal year, it is revealed that that Porsche enjoyed an operating margin of 18 percent. That means the Stuttgart brand made on average about $23,200 per car sold, according to BusinessWeek. Bentley wasn't far behind, and Audi (which was combined with Lamborghini) posted a 10.1 percent margin. This compares to only around 2.9 percent for the Volkswagen brand.
As the top market for the Volkswagen Group, China will be getting plenty of attention in coming years when it comes to vehicle production starting with an all-new plant in Foshan. The new plant celebrated the production of its first car this week – a seventh-gen Volkswagen Golf – but the Audi A3 will also join the line by the end of this year.
In late 2010, Volkswagen announced that it would spend the equivalent of $71 billion through 2015 to beef up its product lineup, determined to overtake Toyota in overall sales and profitability by 2018. Each of VW's many brands, in turn, would play its part contributing to a goal of 10 million sales per year. VW-owned Porsche was expected to sell 200,000 vehicles per year by 2018, but with the imminent arrival of the Macan small sport utility vehicle in 2014, the automaker is poised to meet that
Volkswagen is on the rise, and has its eye on becoming the largest automaker in the world. But the VW Group is about more than just cars. Their considerable holdings and expanding corporate tree also encompasses several heavy truck manufacturers, and that part of the business has now been cleared to expand.
Bugatti is reportedly beginning work on the next generation Veyron, and rumor has it that they're looking to hit Ludicrous Speed. Okay, maybe it won't go quite that fast, but with a target of 270 miles per hour, it figures to be pretty darn close.
Sometimes, the children just refuse to get along, leaving it up to the parent to swoop in, clean up the messy bits and make a judgment. Such is the case at the Volkswagen Group, where corporate stepchildren Audi and Porsche were both fighting for the right to develop future sports cars and luxury sedans for the German auto conglomerate's portfolio of brands.
Yesterday, we reported that Volkswagen was planning to name Jonathan Browning as its new CEO of United States operations. At 11:00 AM today, VW did just that – Browning will officially assume the role on October 1st of this year.
Porsche's integration into the Volkswagen Group has already and will undoubtedly continue to see increased cooperation between the allied German automakers in a number of arenas, from platforms and engines to production methods and technology. And let's not forget personnel, as evidenced by the latest shift in top management announced by Porsche and Volkswagen.