Volkswagen Group will ramp up partnerships and use external expertise to tackle the challenges of rectifying software struggles and keeping up in China, both issues that have pushed the automaker off course.
The automaker is “broadening our approach to partnerships” on software and teaming up with local players in China, CEO Oliver Blume said during the company’s annual general meeting Wednesday.
VW is also planning to turn to successful models such as the Golf hatchback into attractive cars for the electric age. “Our icons must – and will – be part of the e-mobility of the future,” Blume said. “We must, we will, and we can, position these models where they belong in terms of brand image.”
VW has lost its sales lead in China during the first quarter and this week swapped out the leadership of its software unit Cariad after severe delays in several electric flagship cars from Audi, Porsche and Bentley.
Blume, at the helm of VW since September while retaining the top job at Porsche, has endured a number of highs and lows since taking over from Herbert Diess, with Porsche’s blockbuster initial public offering unable to paper over the company’s sales slide in China.
In VW’s biggest market, the company is working with Horizon Robotics as part of a 2.3-billion-euro ($2.5 billion) deal to set up a joint venture and get ahead on autonomous-driving technology.
On Tuesday, Porsche said it will collaborate with Mobileye, also on driver-assistance technology.
The deal may later involve other VW brands like Audi, according to RBC Capital Markets.
During his speech, Blume said his dual roles at VW and Porsche — by now Europe’s biggest automaker by value — “works well and is paying off” as investors continue to point to a conflict of interest.