Volkswagen Group’s commercial vehicle group on course for success
A year ago, the global activities of MAN Truck & Bus, MAN Latin America – which markets its products primarily under the Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus brand – and Scania were pooled under Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH. The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand is also a partner in this network. Andreas Renschler, head of Volkswagen Truck & Bus and the Executive Board member responsible for the Commercial Vehicles division at Volkswagen AG, describes the establishment of the holding company as an important step on the journey towards becoming the global champion of the commercial vehicle industry. “Our goal is to make this holding company the industry leader in terms of profitability, innovations and, above all, customer satisfaction. The amalgamation of our commercial vehicle brands into a single holding company enables us to focus more on their specific requirements and therefore make faster decisions.” However, Renschler also emphasises that “the autonomy of the MAN and Scania brands will be maintained, in line with the fundamental principle at Volkswagen.”
“We made a very successful start to 2016. This applies both to our company’s performance and to the demand for our products.”
This merger is creating synergies which have already led to significant successes. In the long term, the company expects the move to bring savings of up to €1 thousand million per year. The 2016 financial year began on a promising note. In the first quarter, Volkswagen Truck & Bus sold a total of 42,000 trucks and buses worldwide, which was an increase of six per cent on the same quarter of the previous year. In western Europe, the growth in sales at the Truck division was as high as 24 per cent. By contrast, the situation in South America remained challenging, especially in Brazil. In the case of lightweight commercial vehicles, more than 113,000 were delivered over the same period, which represents an increase of 4.3 per cent and growth rates in the European core markets of as much as 40 per cent, from country to country. “We made a very successful start to 2016. This applies both to our company’s performance and to the demand for our products,” says Andreas Renschler.
Whether it is the lightweight Volkswagen Caddy, the Transporter, Crafter and Amarok, the complete range of buses, or medium and heavy trucks and special-purpose vehicles for all areas of use both on and off-road, customers can find whatever they are looking for. Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, for example, provides vehicles that are specially designed for use in emerging markets – in South America and Africa, for instance. . Large trucks with the Volkswagen badge on their radiator grille? No doubt an unusual sight for Europeans, but one which again highlights the strength of the brand all over the world.
“Tomorrow’s truck is completely digitally connected. This brings with it additional security and efficiency.”
If a company wants to be right at the top of the commercial vehicle industry, it doesn’t just need vehicles of all sizes for every possible use; it also has to be a master of high tech as well as having robust models. This is why digital innovations are top of the agenda for Andreas Renschler. His credo: “Tomorrow’s truck is completely digitally connected. This brings with it additional security and efficiency.”
In order to further expand its position with regard to digital innovations, Volkswagen Truck & Bus will invest a mid-three-figure million amount in this area over the next five years. MAN and Scania have each set up units to jointly push ahead with their digital connectivity. Experience can very easily be turned into quantifiable successes, as the example of Scania shows. The Swedish Volkswagen subsidiary has already been working on this area since the early 2000s. As a result, almost a third of Scania trucks that are less than ten years old are now digitally connected. Across Europe today, there are already more than 200,000 digitally connected MAN and Scania trucks on the road. By 2017, every newly delivered MAN and Scania truck will be online. The commercial vehicle industry is on the cusp of a profound change. Digitalisation will fundamentally alter the world of cargo transportation. This means that, in future, the goal will no longer just be to supply hardware, but rather to provide intelligent transport solutions as an OEM. The fact that both brands have a high level of expertise in digital connectivity and automated driving was also clearly demonstrated by their participation in the European Truck Platooning Challenge. Platooning is where two or more truck-trailer combinations travel in close succession behind one another using the latest technical driver assistance and steering systems as well as car-to-car communication.
Just recently, a demonstration journey as part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016, which was initiated by the Dutch government, showed the benefits that “slipstream driving” can bring – fuel reductions of up to ten per cent, improved traffic flow and increased road safety. MAN and Scania also took part in this research journey with their trial vehicles. Alongside Andreas Renschler and Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt didn’t miss the opportunity to send the MAN platoon on its way from Munich to Rotterdam. Meanwhile, Scania set out for the rally from Södertälje in Sweden.