'We need to rebuild trust in VW', says head of marketing.
Volkswagen is 80 this year – has the concept of a people’s car changed since then?
‘I think that VW has been able to thoroughly reinvent itself. Starting with its origins – the Beetle, essentially – we had a second wave of innovation led by the Golf, which made VW what is it today, a real volume player in Europe and China.
‘We believe we’re just getting to the third big wave of innovation for the brand, led by cars such as the Golf and Polo but actually in the coming years led by the iD family of electric cars.
‘Volkswagen is true to itself, building consistently high-quality cars, with engineering-led thinking and building timeless cars.
‘Right now we’re really focused in each region on building to the customers’ tastes. Our head of design is currently working on 58 cars at once, so that shows you the scope of our ambition for the years to come.’
You use common engineering platforms across VW Group brands – is the difference between cars at Volkswagen now more about marketing?
‘Our approach works – each brand has a character and a soul and is approaching different customers.
‘Volkswagen is the engineering heart of the group, the team in Wolfsburg happily serving up its work as a platform for growth for brands like Skoda and Seat.
‘The setup works, and the foundation for the next 10 years has already been laid. We’re convinced that Volkswagen will be stronger than ever at the end of it.’
Is it business as usual at Volkswagen at the moment?
‘No, it’s not. We see ourselves in the middle of a huge transformation process at the moment and we’re still working off the effects of the Dieselgate crisis.
‘It damaged the core lifeline of trust between Volkswagen and its customers, but each month we see improvements in terms of building it back up to where it was.
‘We’ve solved the issues technically, but we need to rebuild the strength of trust in our brand, which we believe we can do and will do in a short period of time.
‘Customers around the globe truly love Volkswagen, and they want to love it again. We need to give them the opportunities to do that with fresh new products, with honest and transparent communication.
‘We just had a big meeting with dealers from around the world, which was probably the most transparent meeting we’ve ever had.’
Were they all happy when they left?
‘Yes, I think so. Our dealers are key partners for us, and they need to know what we’re serving up over the next 10 years.
‘I think we offered up a fair, collaborative business model for them in the future. We’re trying to demonstrate that the brand is shifting and we’re happy to see that fresh people are making an impact.
Finally, you’ve got a Polo GTI to drive anywhere – where do you go?
To be honest, the perfect territory for the new car is the UK.
‘It’s full of small roads, the car loves corners and I think that once you get it out on the road you fall in love with it.
‘To me it’s the perfect Polo, it’s beautiful.’