S o flu is annoying. Especially when you catch them before a 12-hour flight to China. For VW boss Martin Winterkorn, the flu also had a pleasant side effect: the inevitable questions about the future in the VW board of management and supervisory board had to be answered by others on the group evening before the opening of the Shanghai Auto Show 2015.
Everything in butter at Volkswagen?
Some of the prepared statements were already available in advance. As before, Winterkorn is still considered the best possible manager to ship the VW steamer into the future. And the Porsche family supported cousin Ferdinand Piëch in advance. In the meantime, he himself had come dangerously close to a hit list. So everything in butter?
Not in life. A truce, perhaps. The fact is: Winterkorn's absence comes at an inopportune time. Not that China boss Jochem Heizmann did not make a successful appearance. However, those who, underlaid with a lot of dramatic music, kicking young Chinese footballers and local talent show songs, swear to the great oath of loyalty to their 'second home China', would do well to have the great chairman on board. So it was a home game without a host. A sovereign 2-0 instead of convincing power football.
Jochem Heizmann had some really exciting announcements in his luggage. The entire VW Group produced 3.5 million cars in China in 2014. Massive investments are being made to keep it that way. 30,000 new jobs are to be created by 2019. With total investments of around $ 22 billion. Lot of money. Many jobs. But also urgently needed. Because: The prospects on the world's largest market are not all rosy, especially for German manufacturers.
Gaps in the product range are closed
'The growth is particularly strong in segments in which we are not represented are ', admitted Heizmann in advance. Off-road vehicles are also a boom segment in China, with SUV sales increasing by almost 50 percent in the first quarter of 2015 alone. German brands such as Volkswagen have so far mainly stood for sedans in China and are only now beginning to close the gaps in the range.
The best proof: the innovations that VW on the group carrolling into the spotlight. Only the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro with plug-in hybrid drive is an SUV hopeful, but it is unaffordable for normal Chinese drivers. The Audi prologue allroad is also pretty to look at. The third reinterpretation of the Audi design future.
This time a coupé station wagon crossover, which designer Marc Lichte has given an extremely straightforward interior. Otherwise? Much of the European standard. With the EXP 10 Speed 6 study, Bentley is testing whether the Chinese market is ready for a new, two-seater luxury sports car.
The GTE mystery: MLB-based sedan
And Then there is the VW C-Coupé GTE, which the Wolfsburg team conjured up shortly before the end. A giant five-meter sedan that is based on the new modular longitudinal construction kit (MLB).
It is primarily intended for the coming generations of the Audi A6 and A8. 'And certainly for the next Phaeton, too,' says VW design boss Klaus Bischoff. With its large wheelbase (3.001 meters) and the luxurious double seats in the rear, the C-Concept is primarily aimed at the Chinese market. If the China Phaeton really comes, it would be a chauffeur car during the week that the owner drives himself on the weekend.
This is a really great target group even by Chinese standards. One thing is clear: the XXL Premium VW should above all bridge the time that Volkswagen needs to bring affordable crossovers and compact SUVs to China and to build them there. Seat's 20V20 study would be such a candidate. Or of course the upcoming Skoda Yeti. Maybe Martin Winterkorn will have more to tell about this next year in Beijing. If nothing comes up.