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VW - History 10

Dr. Piëch's announcement in the Press, that he distances himself from Winterkorn, blew up more dust than the actual comment 'Winterkorn and I don't see eye to eye'. Whether this was intentional or even foreseen by him, remains to be seen. We don't want to deal with the outcome here, but with the possible reason for this wake-up call.

Of course, we don't know the exact reasons ourselves. However, one can use this conflict, to air our own knowledge about the weak points in the VW-concern. We won't necessarily assume rapidly sinking growth-rates in China, which would put the building and operation of 6 new factories up to 2018 in a bad light.

Right now, a total of one billion is also being invested in the USA. Are they sure, that the buyers will once again favour VW to the extent that is hoped? Will a Jumbo be enough for an SUV? It would appear, that VW's domain is the mid-range with a leaning towards the top of the class models. Indeed, doesn't that mean that the subsidiary and the head office will be devouring each other mutually? The Skoda Superb is closing in on the VW Passat, and the Passat is already poaching in the hunting grounds of two Audi classes.

There are a number of dependencies. E.g., the Chinese market (pictures 2-9), which could one day, make the European customers envious. Furthermore, there are the tax policies, which have given the Passat the reputation of being to 90%, a company car. Won't this, at some point simply be too expensive? After all, who knows which direction the next Bugatti will be taking. Then there's also the Porsche company, with its, at the moment, inexplicable price-leaps and bounds.

The company-employees were happy about the more than €8000 at the end of 2014, even the temporary agency workers were given a piece of the pie. Indeed, how much longer are the wealthy going to pay these prices, e.g., for a 911? In addition, won't a doubtlessly outstanding racing-tradition be bled to the last drop, without any really new impulses coming in? What are we to make of the fact, that two company subsidiaries, battle for the same title at Le Mans? Who's going to pay for this excess at the end of the day?

Now, while on the subject of money, how long have they been talking about a really reasonably priced starter-model? It doesn't have to be, like Renault's Dacias, directly successful in the heart of Europe. Didn't VW's presence in Brazil also suffer, in particular, because of the lack of just such a model? Why are they gambling away their reputation? They shouldn't try to console us with the mishap of the cooperation with Suzuki, what they should be doing, is to pull up their socks and get on with car making.

Waste of money. Does this also play a part, if one thinks about the purchase of the rebellious Scania company? Then the simple idea of a potential successor to Winterkorn, all one has to do is to split the company up, then suddenly, everything will be more manageable. Piëch himself, shows in his biography, just how laborious the cooperation was and just how long expensive peculiarities can last. A more complex solution than simply separating themselves into various companies, is necessary.

At first glance, this is a pretty smart idea, offering the customers all the possible alternatives and then letting him/her decide for themselves. Toyota does it differently, striding forwards with the fuel-cell- and slowly backing away from the hybrid technology, without losing sight of the profits from the still supreme position that they hold. VW offers a great deal of variation, and is not even capable of managing the chaotic production in their main plant.

It's a pity that the concern is running out of ideas. The master-designs that were bought some time ago have certainly done their job remarkably well (picture 1), but one still has the feeling that they are treading water. This, by the way, is not only the case with the VW-head office, it's also valid for Audi, only Skoda and perhaps also Seat are the exceptions. Audi is already under so much pressure, that they're now producing low-lying SUVs with racing type engines.

Then there are these engines. Excellent work has been done here, but with 10-speed automatic- and 7-speed manual gearboxes, they have probably reached their zenith. Which way do they want to go now? Turbo- charging and the constantly increasing of the performance per litre, has set the downsizing a relentless limit of three cylinders, and anything over four-cylinders, is almost only something for those with an exaggerated leaning towards performance. They then, don't make all that much difference as far the CO2 calculation is concerned.

Indeed, apart from the fine tuning, it's not really apparent which road is going to be taken. One thinks back with nostalgia, on the times when Audi tackled one technical problem after the other, and solved them all conclusively. This is how the Quattro came to be and the aluminium body and the direct-injection, even though they weren't the first ones to do it. Ferdinand Piëch may look back on these times a little wistfully and still miss only some of it. 02/19

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