The Volkswagen Group met and even beat its targets for 2013 despite the challenging competitive environment. “2013 was an extremely challenging year for European automakers in particular. We weren’t helped either by our home market or by exchange rates. Nevertheless, the Volkswagen Group put up a strong showing despite the difficult conditions”, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, during the presentation of the company’s 2013 financial results in Berlin on Thursday. Winterkorn announced that the Group will now focus even more strongly on qualitative growth, with a particular emphasis on earnings quality, quality in development and people quality.
According to Winterkorn, the Group already holds the key to sustainably strengthening its earnings quality in its hands in the shape of its modular toolkits. Rolling out the toolkit strategy across the Group in the coming years would be a unique achievement in the automotive industry. “As volumes grow and new models are added, we will also see increasingly positive earnings effects”, he said.
Over EUR 10 billion spent on research and development With respect to quality in development, Winterkorn announced plans to rev up the innovation engine even higher. The Volkswagen Group spent over EUR 10 billion on research and development last year – more than any other manufacturer in the world. Enhancing people quality means in particular increasing knowledge transfer. Winterkorn believes that the Volkswagen Group’s greatest asset is the knowledge of its approximately 570,000 employees – and that this must be safeguarded and built on. At the same time, the Volkswagen Group will acquire new knowledge through its cooperation with around 280 universities and research institutes worldwide. “Sharing knowledge leads to new knowledge. This enables us to secure our technology leadership and business success in the future as well”, said Winterkorn.
The Volkswagen Group’s sales revenue increased by 2.2 percent to EUR 197.0 billion in fiscal year 2013 (previous year: EUR 192.7 billion). The Group’s operating profit rose slightly to a record EUR 11.7 billion (EUR 11.5 billion). Deliveries grew by 4.9 percent last year to more than 9.7 million vehicles (9.3 million).
The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand generated sales revenue of EUR 99.4 billion (EUR 103.9 billion) in 2013, falling short of the prior-year figure by 4.4 percent due to exchange rate and volume-related factors. Lower unit sales and upfront expenditures for new technologies in particular affected operating profit, which amounted to EUR 2.9 billion (EUR 3.6 billion). It should be noted that the figures for sales revenue, operating profit and unit sales do not include the Chinese joint ventures.
The Volkswagen Group made a healthy start to 2014. In the first two months, some 1.5 million (1.4 million) passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (excluding MAN and Scania) were delivered worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent. “There is a good chance that we will already exceed the ten million deliveries mark this year – four years earlier than originally planned”, said CEO Winterkorn, referring to the forthcoming product initiative.
This year and next year, the Volkswagen Group brands will be launching more than 100 new models, successors and product enhancements. This will include such key models as the new Passat, the Audi A4 and Audi Q7, the Porsche Macan and the plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche Cayenne, the new ŠKODA Fabia and ŠKODA Superb, and the SEAT Ibiza.
Despite the persistently challenging market environment, Winterkorn was guardedly confident about business development in the rest of 2014. “We are expecting a moderate increase in deliveries”, he said. Challenges for the Volkswagen Group will come from the difficult market environment and fierce competition, as well as interest rate and exchange rate volatility and fluctuations in raw materials prices.