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Consumers moving on from dieselgate: VW

Up and away: VW has turned its attention to electric vehicles in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal with models such as the ID Buzz that was on show at Tokyo.

Global VW marketing boss says brand image rising two years after emissions scandal

26 Oct 2017


CONSUMERS have largely forgiven Volkswagen for the diesel emissions cheating scandal and the German car-maker’s global brand image has progressively improved over the past year, according to VW’s worldwide head of sales and marketing Juergen Stackmann.

Volkswagen has worked on generating a cleaner, greener brand image in the wake of the global scandal which broke in September 2015, when the company admitted to installing a cheat device in various diesel engines across the VW Group that activated full emissions controls when under test conditions but allowed significantly higher emissions during normal driving.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Tokyo motor show this week, Mr Stackmann, who is Volkswagen’s member of the board with responsibility for all passenger car sales, marketing and aftersales, said the company’s internal figures showed an improvement in brand perception following the initial fallout from the scandal.

“If you look at the image data of the Volkswagen brand, clearly we see a pretty progressive upswing now of the brand image basically through the world,” Mr Stackmann said.

“People are still cognisant of the facts, but we really are starting to see that the brand is overcoming the issues now with new technology. We have a fresh mission in mind, and the changes we have done to the brand and our group, actually.

“I think this is recognised by our consumers. Our consumers are very loyal to the brand. You see this now, our sales numbers over the last years, we are very happy to see basically a very strong restrengthening of the Volkswagen brand image around the world.”

It was exactly two years ago at the 2015 Tokyo motor show – just over a month after the scandal broke – that VW passenger cars chief executive Herbert Diess apologised for the company’s actions and confirmed that European legislative authorities had approved a fix for affected vehicles.

 center imageLeft: Volkswagen Passenger Cars member of the board with responsibility for sales, marketing and aftersales Juergen Stackmann

When asked this week whether he was concerned about whether the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance would take Volkswagen Group’s global sales crown this year, Mr Stackmann said the company was more focused on growing in each region rather than its overall sales performance.

“We ended up being number one last year (but) we are not really chasing that number one, to be really honest,” he said.

“That sounds strange as a salesperson for me to say that. But actually, we are very happy to see that we are still making very good progress not only as a group but at a brand level.

“Volkswagen brand has been growing, even the last two years, and we have been growing so far this year by almost three percentage points. And most importantly we are growing in all of our sub-regions, so we are growing in South America, North America, in Europe, in China and Asia.

“It is a very widespread platform that VW has been building on, so we are very confident that we can take some future growth in the years to come with new models. We have been quite late to the SUV market but we are coming fast with a very big range of SUVs now.”

Last year, Volkswagen Group knocked Toyota Motor Corporation off as the best-selling automotive group in the world, with 10,312,400 units shifted – about 100,000 more than the Japanese giant.

Mr Stackmann said VW Group’s ambitious rollout of electric vehicles that will gather steam from 2020 and include 30 pure EVs by 2025 was not risky, adding that acceptance of the technology was growing rapidly in various global markets.

“I think the world is every month getting more and more prepared for electric car introductions. There is a tremendous response from consumers asking for electric mobility in Europe, we see this in the US, we see this Asia – specifically in China,” he said.

“We believe we are coming to the perfect point in time with a car range that has long range to offer, which is exciting in design and really really fun to drive. And I think we will offer real true alternative of mobility for the future.

“And we believe in our planning, obviously. We have done a huge commitment of the group and the brand into this future mobility and we are convinced that we will be leaders of the pack and we will be leaders of this movement in this next decade.”

VW Group upped its R&D spend on EV tech significantly following the diesel emissions crisis.

The company staged the Japanese debut of the ID Buzz electric MPV at the Tokyo show – a model that will go into production from 2020.

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