Volkswagen is to stop building diesel vehicles for the American market, a move that is part of a ‘comprehensive global repositioning’ of the brand in the aftermath of the so-called ‘dieselgate’ scandal.
The VW management board has approved a new strategy to make the brand more efficient. It’s called ‘Transform 2025’ and pledges ‘massive investments in e-mobility and connectivity’.
Board of management chairman Dr Herbert Diess said VW will change radically over the next few years. “Very few things will stay as they are. In the final resort, the new strategy is a major transformation programme, ” he said.
“Our goals are high and our strategy is very ambitious. We want to benefit from change and to take Volkswagen into the lead in the new automobile industry with determination.”
Diess said the company would focus on electric vehicles and new business models for mobility. “From 2020, we will be launching our major e-mobility offensive. As a volume manufacturer, we intend to play a key role in the breakthrough of the electric car.”
Among measures VW would take to finance the e-mobility offensive, said Diess, would be to stop making low-volume models and some variants. “We are not aiming for niche products but for the heart of the automobile market,” he said.
“By 2025, we want to sell a million electric cars per year and to be the world market leader in e-mobility. Our future electric cars will be the new trademark of Volkswagen.”
Meanwhile, Diess told German newspaper Handelblatt that VW was working under the assumption that it would no longer offer TDI diesel vehicles in the US. “The reason is the legal framework,” he said, referring to stricter nitrogen oxide (N0x) emissions laws due in the US by 2020.
As a result, diesel variants of the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Passat and Touareg will be history in the US, although VW Group subsidiaries Audi and Porsche are expected to continue selling diesels for now. VW settled on a NZ$20 billion fine by US authorities for its violation of the country’s clean air laws. It is still expected to fix thousands of TDI models.
Mercedes-Benz is also looking at dropping its diesel models in the US, citing declining sales and tough upcoming emissions laws. Its vice-president of sales and product management, Matthias Leuhrs, told Automotive News that dropping diesels was a “theoretical option.”
“We have to look at that and see whether it makes sense to offer diesels in the future,” he said. Mercedes-Benz has already pulled its C-Class diesel sedan and wagon from the US and is evaluating demand for other diesel models, including SUVs the GLC, GLS, and GLE .