Research and Development

Forward-looking mobility solutions with brand-defining products and services would be unthinkable without innovations. This makes our research and development work essential for sustainably increasing the value of the Company.

Together with our Group brands, we have launched strategic initiatives for networking development activities across the Group based on our future program TOGETHER – Strategy 2025. At the heart of this is an efficient, cross-brand development alliance characterized by a close network of our experts, collaboration on an equal footing, an innovative working environment and the pooling of development activities. With this, we aim to make use of synergy effects across the Group and act as a role model for the environment, safety and integrity. The alliance is playing a major part in the Volkswagen Group’s transformation into a leading provider of sustainable mobility and helping to make the Group fit for the future.

Based on this strategic focus, we concentrated in the reporting period on continuing to develop forward-looking mobility solutions, establishing technological expertise to strengthen our competitiveness, expanding our range of products and services and improving the functionality, quality, safety and environmental compatibility of our products and services, for example through cooperation across brands.

in grams per kilometer
CO2 emissions of the Volkswagen Group’s European (EU28) New passenger car fleet (bar chart)

1 Subject to official publication by the European Commission in the annual CO2 fleet monitoring report.

Fuel and drivetrain strategy

The Volkswagen Group’s new passenger car fleet in the EU (excluding Lamborghini and Bentley) emitted an average of 123 g CO2/km1 in the reporting period and was thus below the 2018 European limit of 130 g CO2/km. The small year-on-year increase is mainly attributable to the new measurement techniques to be applied. As small volume manufacturers, the Lamborghini and Bentley brands each have an independent fleet for the purposes of the European CO2 legislation; Bentley complied with its individual target, Lamborghini was slightly above its target.

As part of a Group-wide initiative – and with a view to the legal regulations on emissions – we are currently developing a forward-looking vehicle and drivetrain portfolio: to achieve our goal of sustainable mobility, we have set ourselves the objective of increasing drive system efficiency with each new model generation – irrespective of whether the means of propulsion is a combustion engine, a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, a purely electric drive, or a fuel cell drive system. The Volkswagen Group closely coordinates technology and product planning with its brands so as to avoid breaches of fleet fuel consumption limits, since these would entail severe financial penalties.

We anticipate that already by the year 2025, one in four new Volkswagen Group vehicles worldwide will have a purely electric drive; depending on the market development, this could be up to three million electric vehicles a year. The Volkswagen Group has launched a comprehensive electrification offensive in the form of Roadmap E. By 2025, we plan to offer our customers around the world more than 80 new electric models, including some 50 purely battery-electric vehicles and 30 plug-in hybrids. By 2030, the Volkswagen Group aims to electrify its entire model portfolio – from high-volume models to premium vehicles. This will mean offering at least one electric version – battery-electric, hybrid or mild hybrid vehicles – of each of our approximately 300 passenger car models across all Group brands. We are therefore developing two new electric platforms for vehicles with a range of up to 600 km.

The Volkswagen Group is committed to achieving the Paris climate targets and is pursuing the goal of making its vehicle fleet completely carbon neutral by 2050.

To enable sustainable, affordable mobility in the future for as many people around the world as possible, we will offer the full range of drivetrains – from conventional combustion engines to all-electric drive. From today’s perspective, conventional combustion engines look set to make up the lion’s share of drive technology in the coming years. In the interest of using resources responsibly, it is therefore essential to further enhance this engine segment and systematically consolidate it for specific markets. Powertrain measures such as far more sophisticated exhaust gas purification or mild hybridization of the vehicles, but also vehicle measures such as optimized aerodynamics or reduced rolling resistance will be necessary to fulfill future emissions standards.

In addition to electric drives and more efficient combustion engines, renewable, reduced-CO2 fuels (in gas or liquid form) are playing an increasingly important role. We support the expansion of the natural gas (CNG) infrastructure and are conducting intensive research into options for producing fuels from renewable electricity, enabling carbon-neutral operation of combustion engines.

Last but not least, we are working under Audi’s leadership to make fuel cell technology ready for market.

It is more important to us than ever to rigorously pursue our modular approach. We are reducing the number of individual modules so that we can make a large product portfolio economically viable. Over the long term, we will reduce the number of versions of conventional combustion engines in the Group by more than a third. This will create capacity for the development and production of new hybrid and electric drives.

Life cycle engineering and recycling

On their own, technological innovations for reducing fuel consumption are not enough to minimize the effect of vehicles on the environment. That is why we examine the entire product life cycle of our vehicles – from the extraction of raw materials to the production of components and the provision of fuel and energy during vehicle use to their final disposal. We identify the stages of the life cycle at which improvements will have the greatest effect and develop appropriate solutions. We call this life cycle engineering. Recycling, for example, is an important means of reducing environmental impact and conserving resources. Already when developing new vehicles, we therefore pay attention to the recyclability of the required materials, use high-quality recycled material and avoid pollutants. At the end of their lives, our vehicles are 85% recyclable and 95% recoverable.

1 Subject to official publication by the European Commission in the annual CO2 fleet monitoring report.