Ludger Fretzen of Volkswagen
Volkswagen has confirmed that it will continue to invest heavily to help find new mobility solutions – but the company insists it does not have all the answers. “I’m not sure that we know better than others what the future brings,” says Ludger Fretzen, executive director, group strategy new business at the manufacturer.
“What I think is that everyone has their own base - ours is to build cars – and his own fundamental view on technology. Everybody has his own strength but I don’t think we will have solutions without partnering.”
Last year, VW trumpeted its entry to the new mobility space by pledging a €34 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicles until 2022. Fretzen acknowledges that the ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal – when VW was found to have programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls for laboratory tests - speeded up the manufacturer’s entry into the search for mobility solutions.
“For our company, the TDI topic was an accelerator,” he agrees.So does he think that the big investment would have been delayed by a couple of years if Dieselgate had not happened? “I’m not sure,” says Fretzen.
“There is a lot of pressure to find solutions.” He says the need for sustainability has long been discussed at VW, and there was certainly no problem in getting the money signed off: “Our board is one of the main drivers for this change. They are convinced – I don’t have to persuade them.”
VW’s mobility arm Moia is responsible for a ride-sharing pilot which is due to be launched fully in Hamburg in 2019. “From my point of view, ride-pooling is the most efficient way to travel within cities,” continues Fretzen. The all-electric vehicle on display at ITS World Congress is one of 500 which will be used in the German city.