Product responsibility

We believe that offering our customers a wide range of efficient, affordable and practical powertrain and fuel technologies in order to reduce climate risks is the right way forward, although this approach requires extensive innovation and investment. At the same time, we set ourselves apart from other manufacturers by focusing our high quality standards not least on the mass market. The strategic framework for our product development work is provided by three key objectives from the Volkswagen Group’s environmental management system – climate protection, resource conservation and healthcare.

All over the world, some 40,000 Volkswagen Group engineers are working on the innovations of tomorrow.

Innovation Management

In 2013, the Volkswagen Group spent approximately €10.2 billion on research and development. Over the coming five years, further investment of €84.2 billion in developing new models, environmentally friendly drive technologies and optimized production processes is planned. In order to offer all our customers products that are not only precisely tailored to their needs but also environmentally compatible, we are working intensively on solutions that range from highly efficient, eco-friendly diesel, petrol and natural gas engines to innovative hybrid drive systems and all-electric vehicles. Our aim is to be the world leader in electric mobility by 2018. The study “Industrial R&D Investment Scorecard”, undertaken for the EU Commission, reveals that Volkswagen is investing more in research and development than any other company in the world. The study compared the research and development expenditure of 2,000 international companies from a range of different sectors.

In its research into more efficient and more responsible forms of mobility, the Group is also looking into the use of alternative materials for automotive manufacturing and the various aerodynamic design options. Our research and development centers include sites in Wolfsburg (Germany), Anchieta (Brazil), Changchun and Shanghai (China) and Puebla (Mexico). Cooperating in some cases with universities and research institutes, the R&D centers are working on projects whose results will benefit the industry as a whole. In July 2013, the Volkswagen brand and the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) presented the findings of their joint research project “Innovation Alliance Green Carbody Technologies” InnoCaT®, under which Volkswagen and more than 60 partners, led by the IWU, developed innovative solutions for future car body production processes. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) contributed €15 million of funding towards this project.

World’s most innovative automaker

Road Safety

Road safety is a key research and development focus in the Volkswagen Group. The Group’s accident research departments play a pivotal role in this work, reconstructing and evaluating accidents in order to obtain information that will help boost future vehicle safety. Although the number of road accidents in industrialized countries is falling, in developing countries it continues to rise. All of the Group’s brands offer advanced systems for the protection of driver and occupants. Our aim is to make these systems available to as many of our customers as possible. For example, the Volkswagen brand fits the Anti-lock Braking System and the Electronic Stability Program as standard on all its vehicles. The current-generation Golf is the first compact model to be fitted with assistance systems such as Automatic Distance Control, the Front Assist Ambient Traffic Monitoring System and the Lane Assist lane-keeping system. Along with the City Emergency Braking function with pedestrian recognition, new developments also include Emergency Assist, which intervenes if the system detects no steering or braking inputs from the driver.  19
Innovative driver assistance systems not only serve to make driving safer, they also make it less stressful. This is particularly important against a background of ageing populations in many parts of the world. The new technologies are based on improved sensors and intelligent connectivity. A system has even been developed which allows the vehicle to be parked by radio remote control or using a smartphone app.  20
On the active safety front the Group is involved in a variety of projects around the world aimed at improving road safety awareness. For example a road safety partnership between the Volkswagen brand and ADAC will allow Volkswagen to use ADAC’s Safety Demonstration Centers to stage its own driver training programs. And since 2010, Volkswagen and ADAC have to date organized more than 4,000 events under a joint initiative entitled “Safety in the Car” (Sicher im Auto), at which parents have been able to find out more about how to transport their children safely by car. And in China the Volkswagen brand is sponsoring a television program on road safety.

Vehicle and road safety measures

Focus on road safety

Product safety

With more than 9 million vehicles coming off the Volkswagen Group’s assembly lines every year, quality assurance – at all stages from purchasing right through to sales – is of vital importance. For example an in-house-tested and proven risk management system has been introduced which allows high quality standards to be ensured at a very early stage in the supply chain. Standardized processes, which are continuously optimized, provide a benchmark in all parts of the value chain. And over recent years, we have continued to standardize our defect elimination process so that we can react even more quickly in the future to vehicle problems and help our customers even faster.

Vehicles recalled for fuse swap

Product awards 2013

Award   Model   Awarding body  
Car of the Year Golf (Volkswagen) International: Jury comprises 58 automotive journalists from 22 countries.
US Consumers Report (first place) A6 (Audi) US: The editors choose products on the basis of drivability,
interior design, reliability and fuel consumption.
Golden Steering Wheel Golf (Volkswagen) German: Chosen by 200,000 readers of AUTO BILD and BILD AM SONNTAG, together with an expert jury.
Golden Classic Steering Wheel 911 (Porsche), Cayman• (Porsche) German: Readers of AUTO BILD Klassik voted the Porsche 911
“Classic of the Year” and the Porsche Cayman•
“Classic of the Future”.
VCD Top 10 ranking list of
environment-friendly cars
eco up!• (Volkswagen),
Citigo CNG• (ŠKODA),
Mii Ecofuel•(SEAT)
German: These three models shared first place in the Top 10
environment-friendly cars ranking list 2013/2014
published by the German Traffic Club (VCD).
ACV mobil environmental award Golf TDI BlueMotion• (Volkswagen) Germany: Chosen by Automobil Club Verkehr (ACV)
members’ poll.

Customer Satisfaction

In line with Strategy 2018, customer satisfaction is of paramount importance for all Volkswagen Group brands. The Group monitors customer satisfaction using standardized performance indicators which are the same for all brands and include brand image, desirability, future purchase consideration, product quality and brand communication awareness.

Across the world, satisfaction studies are carried out for all Group brands, focusing on the key areas of product, service and dealers. We use the study findings to ensure that we always maintain our focus on customer requirements and constantly improve our product and process quality. Volkswagen, Audi, ŠKODA and Porsche were again able to improve their customer satisfaction ratings compared to the previous year. In the USA, the Porsche and Audi brands took first and second places respectively for product satisfaction. In China, Porsche led the way on dealer and product satisfaction, while Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche took joint first place for service satisfaction. In their European home market, Audi and Porsche came first on dealer satisfaction, while Porsche also came first on product satisfaction, closely followed by Audi and ŠKODA in joint second place.

Information and Labeling

As product manufacturers, all companies in the Volkswagen Group are obliged to suitably inform the users of their products about dangers that can ensue during correct operation and foreseeable misuse of the product and warn them accordingly. The Group companies meet these requirements through instruction manuals and in individual cases through warning stickers in the vehicle.
Since December 1, 2011, it has been mandatory for all new cars in Germany to be labeled with a weight-based efficiency label similar to the energy labeling system used for household appliances. Efficiency classes range from A+ (very efficient) to G (inefficient). The label also provides information on fuel consumption, annual fuel costs, CO2 emissions and the amount of tax payable under Germany’s CO2-based vehicle tax. For electric vehicles, the label provides information on electricity consumption. All Group brands also use their websites to provide information on the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of their models. The Volkswagen brand also publishes Environmental Commendations, which describe improvements in the environmental performance of new vehicles and technologies over their predecessors or reference models.