FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group is planning further acquisitions in the market for new transportation technologies and services, a leading manager at the automaker said, as it seeks to make up ground after its emissions scandal.
VW, which had been reluctant to commit to new industry trends like car sharing, is also looking for more alliances with technology firms as it tries to capture new business following the scandal centering around the manipulation of emissions software, Volkswagen's digital chief Johann Jungwirth said.
"Yes, there are further opportunities" for purchases, Jungwirth, a former Apple executive who was hired by VW last year, said in an interview. "We have quite a few things in the pipeline," he said, without going into details.
VW took a $300 million stake in May in ride-hailing company Gett which competes with Uber as it builds a services business that VW expects to generate billions of euros in sales by 2025.
But Jungwirth, who also used to work at Daimler, acknowledged that VW is a latecomer on new technologies as it pushes into self-driving cars and ride- sharing -- areas where rivals have already made inroads.
"We have a massive need to now work with the same passion for detail and the same focus on software and services as on hardware," said Jungwirth.
VW, through its Audi luxury flagship brand, has committed to developing a fully self-driving car rather than working on incremental autonomous-drive features that would occasionally require the intervention of the driver.
To help speed its development of self-driving cars, the manager said VW will "massively expand" its presence in Silicon Valley where it is setting up centers for future design and autonomous driving alongside its electronics research lab.
VW will be at the forefront of carmakers rolling out fully automated driverless vehicles for commercial ride-sharing no later than 2021, according to Jungwirth.
It is a competitive field. Uber formed an alliance with Volvo this week and plans to test driverless control systems in Volvos in a pilot scheme in Pittsburgh.
VW Group may target overseas cities for its autonomous vehicle program as the U.S. and China are likely to push harder than Europe to authorize the operation of self-driving cars.
"I expect the first such vehicles to hit the market in the next three to five years," said Jungwirth.