Dear Readers and Colleagues,
Over the last few months, we have learned a painful lesson at Volkswagen. It is not enough just to advocate environmental protection, integrity and values – above all, it is essential to live and breathe these values. Volkswagen has squandered that most valuable of commodities, trust. And now we are doing our utmost to win it back again. Our “TOGETHER – Strategy 2025” is a clarion call heralding the most far-reaching process of change in our corporate history. In it, we set forth our vision: to transform the Volkswagen Group from one of the world’s best automakers into one of the world’s leading providers of sustainable mobility. In short, we are deliberately placing sustainability at the heart of everything we plan to do in the future.Volkswagen has squandered that most valuable of commodities, trust. And now we are doing our utmost to win it back again.In our new Strategy 2025, we have also set ourselves the goal of becoming a role model in all things related to the environment, safety and integrity. While this may sound very ambitious as things stand at present, it is certainly not just an empty promise. We intend to substantially reduce our carbon footprint the whole way along the value chain so that in terms of CO2 and other emissions, our operations and vehicles become best in class.
Autonomous driving will also play a major role in the transformation of our core business. Over the next few years, this revolutionary technology will become commonplace, helping to significantly reduce the number and severity of road accidents. But we will only succeed in becoming a role model if we ensure that everything we do is based on solid values and flawless integrity. By contributing her enormous experience and expertise to the Group’s Board of Management, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt is already helping us to make progress towards this goal.
Our industry, hence also Volkswagen, stands on the brink of dramatic structural change. Quite naturally, this arouses all kinds of anxieties and insecurities among the members of our workforce. New kinds of work will emerge, while others gradually disappear. By 2025, for example, we expect that roughly a quarter of the cars we manufacture will have all-electric powertrains. This will have a particular impact on production locations that currently build transmissions and combustion engines. We are working on plans for future-proofing these locations – among other things, by training our already highly skilled workforce in the disciplines they will need in the future, such as IT, digitization and new drive technologies. This is another aspect of what we would describe as sustainable activity.
The term “sustainability” may sometimes appear to be overused, or used arbitrarily. Yet it remains as relevant as ever. Properly understood and practiced, sustainability is a fundamental prerequisite for long-term business success. This is particularly true for any company with “Volkswagen” in its name. This is why we have set ourselves economic, social and ecological goals that have all been given equal priority and equal parity. In parallel, we aim to create lasting values, offer good working conditions, and act as good stewards of the environment and its natural resources.
We intend to substantially reduce our carbon footprint the whole way along the value chain so that in terms of CO2 and other emissions, our operations and vehicles become best in class.
Of course certain goals will always come into conflict, for example eco-friendliness on the one hand and cost-efficiency on the other. By addressing such conflicting goals openly and transparently, we hope to find suitably balanced responses. This is why we are publishing a new sustainability magazine alongside this report, in which we pay critical attention to recent developments, but also and especially look forward to the future and the huge upheavals which we both anticipate and intend to address.
This year’s Sustainability Report will be the first such report to appear exclusively online. In order to make our statements, figures and data transparent, simple to understand and easy to compare, we have followed the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). At the same time, the report also represents our Communication on Progress as required by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). As part of our commitment to the UNGC, we have promised to promote human rights, create good working conditions and protect the environment worldwide, while simultaneously fighting corruption. And although we have suspended our membership pending full and final resolution of the diesel emissions issue, we remain profoundly committed to these goals.
We aim to create lasting values, offer good working conditions, and act as good stewards of the environment and its natural resources.
As we seek to rebuild our sustainability management systems, we have set up a Group Sustainability Council. Between them, the distinguished members of the new Council have an impressively broad experience of life and work. Furthermore, the Council’s composition reflects the full variety and diversity of world cultures. The Sustainability Council is a fully independent body with a dual remit. First, to act as a critical observer of and adviser to the Board of Management, and second, to identify and recommend specific projects that will further advance the company’s sustainability management efforts. We are delighted to be working with the Council, and strongly believe that their observations and ideas will inspire and stimulate both Volkswagen and the automotive industry as a whole.
We look forward to a future of which we can be proud,