Customers’ perceptions of a product’s quality are becoming more and more important in the face of growing competitive pressure. In addition, the ever-increasing complexity of the vehicles and the introduction of new environmentally friendly technologies such as hybrid drives present new challenges for the quality assurance function. To minimize potential risks arising from poor quality from the outset, we are developing new expertise and more extensive safety mechanisms. This is being done in close cooperation with all the divisions and with our suppliers.
The individual skills and knowledge of our employees are a major factor contributing to the Volkswagen Group’s success. Our aim of becoming top employer improves our chances of recruiting and retaining talented new employees. Of equal importance is our strategic, end-to-end personnel development. For this reason, Volkswagen offers committed workers attractive employment and development opportunities. Workers with specialist skills are also increasingly being offered attractive career paths that are independent of the management track. We use intensive knowledge management to counter the risk of corporate amnesia as a result of employee fluctuation and retirement. In addition to the standard twin-track vocational training, our established StIP integrated degree and traineeship scheme ensures that we always have access internally to highly qualified new employees.
In the course of their operating activities, Volkswagen AG and the companies in which it is directly or indirectly invested become involved in legal disputes and official proceedings in Germany and internationally. In particular, such proceedings may occur in relation to suppliers, dealers, customers, or investors.
For the companies involved, these may result in payment or other obligations. Particularly in cases where US customers assert claims for vehicle defects individually or by way of a class action, highly cost-intensive measures may have to be taken and substantial compensation or punitive damages paid.
Where transparent and economically viable, adequate insurance cover is taken out for these risks and appropriate provisions recognized for the remaining identifiable risks. The Company does not believe, therefore, that these risks will have a sustained effect on the economic position of the Group.
However, as some risks cannot be assessed or can only be assessed to a limited extent, the possibility of loss or damage not being covered by the insured amounts and provisions cannot be ruled out.
Redundant firewalls and intrusion prevention systems safeguard our IT systems against unauthorized access. We achieve additional protection with virus scanners as well as restricted physical and data access rights. The systems used for safeguarding information are constantly checked and continuously updated. In addition, we back up all data resources daily. We consider the likelihood of a threat to our information systems and the security of our data to be very low thanks to the measures taken.
Going beyond the risks already outlined, there are other factors that cannot be predicted and are therefore difficult to manage. Should these transpire, they could have an adverse effect on the further development of the Volkswagen Group. These factors include natural disasters, epidemics and terror attacks.