Stability. Growth. Leadership.

2013 brought up another important milestone for the Volkswagen Group on its way to becoming the world’s leading automobile manufacturer, with a new record number of vehicles delivered. Unit sales rose 5% to 9.73 million vehicles. That puts Volkswagen in second place in the worldwide rankings, with the second-highest growth in absolute terms.

Management Approach

Safeguarding economic stability is one of the most important goals for the Volkswagen Group. To ensure sustainable and stable growth we are constantly tapping new fields of potential: optimizing our production processes and refining our products, as well as making extensive investments in research and development, our plant and equipment and our employees.
Diversification of our product portfolio and broad-based positioning in the global markets also serve to promote economic stability by helping to reduce sectoral and geographical risks. By localizing value-added we can not only respond more flexibly to customer needs but also offset volatile exchange rates and mitigate risks resulting from protectionism.

Challenges and Goals

The changing structure of the global economy and the growth prospects of individual countries and regions pose substantial challenges for the Volkswagen Group. In addition, the increasingly hard-fought competition in the various markets and the growing size and complexity of the Company call for a strategy that offers an effective response to both local requirements and global trends.
While in the USA demand for automobiles continued its recovery in 2013, it was above all the ongoing economic uncertainties in Western Europe that led to the weakest overall level of market activity of the past 20 years. At the same time, the intensity of competition in what since 2008 has been the world’s fastest-growing sales region – Asia-Pacific – is constantly increasing. Along with the revived American automakers and the Japanese and Korean manufacturers who continue to expand, in the future the Chinese brands too will be building on their existing positions both within and outside China. German automobile manufacturers, particularly hard hit by the current weak state of the European market, are adapting capacities, stepping up cooperative activities and expanding their global presence in pursuit of a decisive improvement in their competitive position. At the same time, the shift in the global economy’s centers of growth continues. Above all the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will continue to gain importance in both economic and political terms, exercising a decisive influence on the state of the global economy.

KEY FIGURES BY MARKET1

Vehicle sales   Sales revenue  
Thousand vehicles/€ million   2013  2012  2013  2012 
Europe/Other markets 4,209 4,179 117,062 115,384
North America 901 896 27,434 25,046
South America 987 1,075 17,495 18,311
Asia-Pacific2 3,632 3,194 35,016 33,936
Volkswagen Group2 9,728 9,345 197,007 192,676

1 All figures shown are rounded, so minor discrepancies may arise from addition of these amounts.
2 The sales revenue of the joint venture companies in China is not included in the figures for the Group and the Asia-Pacific market.

Volkswagen Group – A global Economic and Environmental Leader by 2018

1 Normalized return on equity based on an equity ratio of 8%. 2 Including China.
Note: All figures given for Volkswagen Group are financial goals for 2018.


For the Volkswagen Group the rapid growth of many emerging economies offers substantial opportunities in terms of the volume of sales. The social rise of broad swaths of the population and the rapid increase in the level of prosperity are giving rise to new groups of potential buyers with numerous local and international automakers competing for their custom. Consequently, successfully accessing new markets in the growth regions calls for the development of a localized and market-led product offering. But a global growth strategy can only succeed if the profitability of these products is assured. Moreover, high levels of flexibility and financial autonomy are essential in order to mitigate the effects of economic downturns and crises. The recent years of crisis have shown that investments in the development of products, processes and employees pay dividends and provide the key to lasting corporate success.

Policies and Guidelines

Our business activities are governed by our policies and the strategic goals of the Group:

  • Volkswagen Group corporate values: Defined in 2002, these lay the foundations for our activities. 6
  • Volkswagen Group Code of Conduct: Introduced in 2010, the Group-wide Code of Conduct must also be respected by our business partners. We reserve the right to have compliance with the requirements of the Code verified by experts. The Volkswagen Group also expects its business partners to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct by their own suppliers. 8
  • The Volkswagen Group requirements regarding sustainability in its relationships with business partners (Code of Conduct for business partners): Originally defined in 2006, the requirements were revised in 2013. They set out the Group’s expectations concerning its business partners’ conduct with regard to central environmental and social standards and are based on documents such as the Principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Charter for Sustainable Development and the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization. These principles are supplemented by Volkswagen’s Environmental Policy, the resulting environmental targets and requirements, the Group’s Quality Policy and the Volkswagen Declaration on Social Rights. 16
  • Quality Policy: In 2008 the Volkswagen brand issued a Quality Policy which covers product quality, process quality, customer satisfaction and on-time delivery. Similar policies are in force at the other Group brands.

Modular Transverse Matrix

One key instrument in the pursuit of our economic goals is the Modular Transverse Matrix, also known by its German abbreviation MQB, which helps make our production operations flexible and efficient. For one thing it enables us to use identical components in different models, reducing the cost of each individual vehicle. And for another the MQB permits the replacement of individual components in response to revised customer wishes. This enables the Group to react promptly to changes in the marketplace and avoid excess capacities and misallocation of resources.
At the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and ŠKODA brands the MQB was introduced in 2012. Models already based on the MQB include the new Golf, the Audi A3, the ŠKODA Octavia and the SEAT Leon. In the near future, across the Group 40 models based on the MQB will be brought to market. 17

Market Strategy “Go West”

China remains the Volkswagen Group’s most important single market. In 2013, the Group sold a total of more than 3.3 million vehicles in China, including some 3 million produced in the country itself. Our production plants in China are currently at the limits of their capacity. The Volkswagen Group is therefore planning to expand its local production capacity from 3 to 4 million vehicles by 2018. In this respect, the Volkswagen Group is responding to the wishes of the Chinese government for a stronger engagement in the west of the country and, among other things, is building a new plant in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The region is generally considered a source of unrest, because the indigenous Uyghur people, a Muslim minority, feel that they are the victims of political, religious and economic repression. Volkswagen is aiming to integrate Uyghurs into the workforce at the new plant, based on a clear strategy of recruiting members of minorities in line with the proportion of the general population that they represent. 18

The Challenge of New Markets

Quality Assurance

The growing number of production sites and market-specific model variants within our worldwide production network leaves quality assurance facing a major task. Our aim, in terms of reliability, functionality and perceived quality is to be “best of local”. That means operating at least at the same level as the best competitor in each case. With extended safety, comfort and electronics systems or new drive technologies finding their way increasingly into high-volume models, their integration needs to be tested at the early concept stage in order to ensure reliable, safe and trouble-free functionality.