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VW Group CEO Oliver Blume says design and quality initiatives underway



Because of Porsche's IPO earlier in September, the Volkswagen Group needed to convene an extraordinary general meeting to approve a special investor dividend. VW Group and Porsche CEO Oliver Blume used the meeting to discuss what he and his teams have been working on during his first 100 days in charge, and his plans for getting the conglomerate going in a more profitable direction. That profit isn't simply about money, either — he wants to maximize the power of the group brands as part of increasing revenue and profit. "Nothing and no one is more important than the brands. People buy brands," he said. "They are one of the most important criteria for our customers. That is why we will position our brands even more effectively and sharpen their profile even further."

Blume says the strategy requires eliminating overlap. He told the audience that "product strategies have been significantly revised" that will result in "clear design languages ... to boost the identity of the products." We've heard this before, the concept differences always seem to get watered down to incremental change by the time production sheetmetal is approved. The only exception is Seat, whose latest range is vastly more distinct when comparing models within the Seat lineup and when compared to the Volkswagen models Seat builds its range on. The design initiatives are going to roll out as VW's Scalable Systems Platform proliferates throughout group brands over the next seven years.

Further breathing room will come from dedicated output ranges for individual brands. Blume's translated words were, "we have allocated power ranges to the brand groups so that there will be no more overlaps in future." We'd love to see the chart for this; are brands grouped into something like economy, mainstream, and luxury segments? As in, would Seat and Skoda be walled off together, those two sharing an output range that doesn't infringe on the mainstream Volkswagen brand? Or do all three get their own non-overlapping power bands? And does this apply to ICE and EV powertrains? Any way it goes, seems like at least one tranche of brand customers will be asked to take a step down in power. Call us crazy, but we suspect it won't be Porsche customers. Or maybe everyone gets to go up!

Indisputable good news for everyone comes with Blume saying there's a new quality offensive at work. The effort involves hardware and software, the initiative touched on last month in interviews with Volkswagen brand head Thomas Schäfer about VW's infotainment system. Beyond that, with software being a VW Group bugbear since before the ID.3 launched, Blume said creating the in-house CARIAD software unit was the right move, and that it's at the center of the improvement push, too. Benefits will mean better software in general, EV driving ranges up to 700 kilometers on the WLTP cycle, and fast-charging up to 200 kW. A glimpse of the future comes with the debut of "a high-performance software for [the] premium brands next year."

The full speech outlined ten initiatives distilled from "75 fields of action," each initiative overseen by a VW Group board member. You can read Blume's speech yourself here, or watch the translated video.

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