Monday, January 30, 2023

Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schaefer: “Spain has been very far-sighted in helping the automotive industry”

Thomas Schaefer, He is the person who holds the reins of Volkswagen. As CEO of the Wolfsburg firm, the German-born in Marburg in 1970 is committed to ensuring that the electromobility strategy continues to advance rapidly. And it’s succeeding, as shown by About 330,000 units of electric vehicles are marketed in 202223.6% more than last year.

During our visit to CES in Las Vegas we had the opportunity to interview who is also the Director of Volume Brands for Volkswagen Group (Seat, Skoda and VW), who was present at the launch—yes, decked out with digital camouflage— The latest innovation of the German firm: Volkswagen ID.7. The vehicle will be the company’s first electric sedan and the sixth model in the iD family. The roadmap is clear: The ‘acceleration’ strategy will bring ten new electric models by 2026.

Unlike other brands such as Toyota, Hyundai or BMW, Volkswagen completely abandons hydrogen: “Hydrogen is not for us. Not even after 2026. Hydrogen is pure physics and it is expensive. It’s not competitive, and even less so for passenger cars whose tanks take up space in the cabin. Maybe for commercial vehicles, but not passenger cars. So I don’t see that happening in this decade. Not at Volkswagen”, reflects Schaefer, who graduated in mechanical engineering in 1994.

The industrial plans of the German consortium also pass through Spain in terms of electrification, where the Martorell and Landaben plants continue with their transformation process in order to be able to manufacture electric cars in the near future: “We are going to bring small electric vehicles to Spain. We are going to distribute them between Martorell and Pamplona. We will invest in them.”

Volkswagen Navara Plant

And to these will be added one in Sagunto, Valencia—a €10,000 million investment has been finalized for three factories in Spain—which will be operational in 2026, will be in charge of manufacturing battery cells and create more than 3,000 direct jobs .

Recently, Volkswagen Group, through battery company Powerco, bought a 1.3 million square meter plot in Parc Sagunt for 63.66 million euros.

“At the same time we will build the battery factory in Valencia. Is for Spain is a great success that, in the current environment, was very far-sighted to help the automotive industry, I would say that Spain is probably the country which has made the most progress in this matter in Europe.And it went great”, assures Thomas Schaefer. Business Insider Spain,

The automobile industry is passing through a difficult phase owing to several changes, many of them from forced marches and liability. The connected car is also added to the electric car: “It is a challenge to drive both at the same time. You have to keep up with the development of classic vehicles as well as connected ones: software, architecture and safety. But at the same time You have “We have to invest in battery production. It is true that once it is out there, it is a technology that needs to be observed and developed further, but when we can only focus on it, it will be easier. ,

But maybe The biggest threat facing Volkswagen is the rise of Chinese brands in Europe And, unlike in the past, with quality products.

In fact, according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the Asian country will export 3.11 million vehicles in 2022, up 54% from 2021, a figure that has worked to surpass Germany with 2.61 million vehicles.—10 % over the previous year -, and piracy in second place, only behind Japan, with 3.2 million vehicles exported in the first eleven months – still there is no data for the full year in the country of the ‘rising sun’.

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Thomas Schaefer

“It was always clear that Chinese competition would reach Europe, The same happened with the arrival of the Japanese or Koreans. The Chinese have found success with very fast growing startups. It was always clear that they would eventually come to Europe, and electrification is clearly an opportunity to gain a foothold in Europe and invest here”, says Volkswagen Brand Operations Director.

“Competition is good. This is what keeps us in our fighting mindset. That’s why you have to help and fight. But it is not easy for them either. Some need to start from zero in a market that they understand very little, and that, as you know, we have a great infrastructure in terms of dealerships and heritage brands that they don’t understand. This is competition. It’s not bad,” he says. Thomas Schaefer,

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