Since January 1, 2019, Volkswagen Group Components has been an independent business unit under the umbrella of Volkswagen AG. Right from the start, the unit has been one of the world’s largest suppliers in the automotive industry, with a total of 80,000 employees in 61 plants at 47 locations worldwide. Components produced by Volkswagen Group Components include engines, gearboxes, electric drives, steering systems and seats for the Group brands. The independence of Components makes its jobs more future-proof, because it can leverage synergies and use the plants to better capacity across all the sites. “A centralized management can maximize synergies, promote communication and connections between the locations, utilize capacity in the best possible way across brands and optimize investments. In this way, we can create competitive and future-proof jobs,” says Thomas Schmall, board member responsible for Volkswagen Group Components, about the new structure.
Volkswagen Group Components is subdivided into five new business areas: “Engine and foundry,” “Gearbox and electric drive,” “Chassis,” “E-mobility” and “Seats”. Each business area is responsible for the entire process, from development to procurement and production, and is economically independent. Business operations of the new brand under the umbrella of Volkswagen AG is the responsibility of a management board of three: Thomas Schmall as CEO, Thomas Eichenberg as CFO and Wolfgang Fueter as Director of HR. As the Group board of management member responsible for the area of components and procurement, Dr. Stefan Sommer is a member of the supervisory committee for Group Components. “We are consistently aligning Group Components across the brands in order to strengthen our competitiveness. Thanks to our depth of production and product strength, we measure up to the best among the competition. We are now sharpening our e-mobility profile. Group Components will assume end-to-end responsibility for the battery, from developing expertise in cell production right down to recycling. It’s an important step for the whole Group.”
Massive investment in e-mobility
On the basis of the Future Pact, the Volkswagen Group already saved costs of over 750 million euros at its German plants between 2016 and the end of 2018. This positive result is expected to increase to a total of two billion euros by 2025. At the same time, the company is investing massively in e-mobility. In 2019 and 2020 alone, 870 million euros will be poured into the manufacture of e-components across the Group. This means that the share of investment in e-components has risen from five percent to 40 percent since 2015. In total, the Group will invest 3.8 billion euros in the production of e-components by 2023 – the majority of which will go into the plants.
Conventional engines and electric machines
The changeover from classical drives to e-mobility is of greater importance to Group Components than to any other corporate unit, as the new brand manufactured over ten million conventional engines and over eight million gearboxes, for example, in 2018. In the future, Group Components will be responsible for the essential steps in what is known as “end-to-end responsibility” for batteries. At the Salzgitter site, developers and production planners at the Center of Excellence (CoE) are already developing sustainable battery cell expertise for the Group. In the component plant in Braunschweig, battery systems are being developed and produced – in the future for e-vehicles across all brands on the basis of the MEB. When batteries reach the end of their service life in vehicles, some of them will be given a second life – for example, in new products such as the flexible fast charging station which Group Components will be manufacturing at the Hanover site from 2020 onwards. Group Components will also be responsible for recycling end-of-life batteries. To this end, a pilot plant will be opened in Salzgitter for the further development of the recycling process for high-voltage batteries in the first half of 2020. According to Thomas Schmall, “Conventional drives will continue to be important over the next few years. Vehicle components such as engines, gearboxes, steering systems, axles and seats are essential pillars of our success. With further activities in the growing field of e-mobility and new strategic partnerships, we are ensuring a successful future for our product portfolio.”