Volkswagen is the world’s second-largest car manufacturer; less than 100,000 vehicles behind global leader Toyota. But scandals and controversies have cost it dearly. Can a re-brand ensure its future?
Escaping The Past
All around the world, thousands of Volkswagen factories, storage units and dealerships are making a subtle change. They’re removing the old, now well-known 3D logo of the auto-giant and replacing it with another that it says will be ‘significantly younger’. Officially due to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, designs have shown that it’s a familiar, flat and black and white symbol. The instantly recognisable ‘V’ and ‘W’ are still where you’d expect them to be, but they’re simpler and somehow purer. The design was produced entirely in-house and is meant to reflect an increasingly digital age, appealing to younger consumers. But that’s only half of the story, for Volkswagen it represents a concerted effort to escape its own past.
Volkswagen isn’t unfamiliar with escaping a troubled past. It was, after all, the product of the National Socialist regime in Germany; a part of Hitler’s (unrealised) plan to provide all of his citizens with an affordable family car. Much more recently, it found itself at the heart of the so-called Dieselgate crisis. An environmental disaster in an environmentally conscious age. For deliberately installing emissions-related cheat devices within its models, it lost consumer confidence and had to fork out over £30 billion in fines and compensation. It’s therefore not surprising that the company would want to present the world with what it’s calling ‘New Volkswagen’.
The new logo is only part of this new initiative. It’s also produced a new platform, the MEB platform, that’ll be used by its own future electric cars and those of its subsidiaries; including the likes of Audi, Skoda and SEAT. It’s at the heart of the company’s vast electrification plans, in which it’s already spent over £40 billion. Much of this has been spent in investing in car battery supplies and outfitting manufacturing sites with new equipment and facilities. In fact, it’s suggested that it wants to sell its last petrol and diesel vehicles by 2026; which is pretty incredible, when you consider that’s just over five years away.
Rising Like A Phoenix?
The first of VW’s post-dieselgate EVs will form part of its ‘ID’ series. The first of which, the ID.3, has already sold out before even reaching consumers. When asked about demand for EVs, a VW executive allegedly responded with (and we’re paraphrasing) ‘we’ll make the demand’. You’d be forgiven for regarding this as supremely arrogant, but it wasn’t a disingenuous statement. Tens of millions of people all across Europe alone drive vehicles produced by the Volkswagen family of marques. The group’s brand and financial reach give it much more flexibility than many of its rivals. When we consider that its electrification plans are being met with extensive digitalisation (including the streamlining of sales), leaner manufacturing procedures and a large amount of new models, we may truly be facing a ‘new’ Volkswagen.
The supreme irony is that the company that effectively accelerated the climate crisis might, ultimately, be at the heart of challenging it. Where VW goes the industry will no doubt go. If it can profitably sell electric vehicles en masse, it’ll inspire other manufacturers to do the same. It doesn’t matter how sincerely interested VW executives and shareholders are, they’ll go where the money goes; including emission-free vehicles and trendier branding.
Volkswagen’s Getting A New Logo And It’ll Reveal It Soon: https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/volkswagen-new-logo/
Meet ID.3, Volkswagen’s First Model In The ID Series: https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/meet-volkswagens-id3/