In 2008, research and development activities were dedicated entirely to expanding our product portfolio and improving the functionality, quality, safety and environmental compatibility of Group products. Both the proposals for improvement and ideas contributed by our staff and the technical expertise of external partners played a key role here.
Innovative products for a stronger future
Innovation management at Volkswagen developed an integrated process in 2008 – the goal of which was to strengthen the Group’s customer focus. This spans the Research, Development, Procurement, Production, Finance and Sales divisions. It covers all stages in the product development process from forward-looking research to series development. On the basis of its outstanding innovation management, Volkswagen won the 2008 “Best Innovator” competition in November 2008 organized by management consultants A.T. Kearney and the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche. This highlighted in particular the clear strategy with which Volkswagen is establishing itself as the world’s most innovative volume manufacturer.
In the following paragraphs we present the most important innovations – new models or systems launched during the past fiscal year.
The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand excelled in 2008 with the launch of the new Passat CC, which features the latest technology for driver assistance systems. The sports coupé has a Dynamic Drive Control feature with which damper parameters are adapted to suit the road surface and driving conditions at all times. At just the touch of a button, the driver can choose between three programs: “normal”, “sport” and “comfort”. The sportiness of a coupé is thus combined with the comfort of a luxury saloon. The Passat CC also provides customers with innovative highlights such as the Optical Parking System (OPS) – an enhancement of the Park Pilot steering assistant in which the acoustic signal emitted when the car is being parked is supplemented by live pictures on the display. Furthermore, the vehicle is the first Volkswagen to be fitted with Continental’s “mobility tires” as standard. With its “ContiSeal” technology, the German tire manufacturer has developed a system that allows the vehicle to be driven further even if objects such as nails or screws have penetrated the tire. Around 85% of normal flat tires can be avoided in this way.
The Group is continuing along its forward-looking path with the new edition of the Golf, the best-selling model of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand. Its excellent value is reflected in its unmistakable design and superior acoustics. The new Golf thus meets the high quality standards of its predecessors and is significantly raising the bar in its class. Driver assistance systems such as Dynamic Drive Control or Adaptive Cruise Control, which used to be available only in vehicles from much higher classes, are offered in the new Golf.
In 2008, Audi unveiled the follow-up to the successful Audi A6, which boasts a multitude of innovations. One of the features of this sporty business saloon car is the “Audi side assist” system. This new lane change assistant helps the driver by recognizing vehicles behind using radar sensors and warning the driver of a dangerous lane change through an optical signal on the wing mirror. In addition to its innovative headlights, which provide all the standard functions based on LED technology, the new A6 is the first Audi to come with the high-beam headlamp assist system that independently switches the headlights on and off depending on exterior conditions. Another highlight in the Audi A6 is the next generation of the MMI operating system for navigation and entertainment, which enables the driver to move around the user interface intuitively using a joystick.
The Škoda brand presented the new Superb in 2008. Its innovative Twindoor system, which allows the tailgate lid to be opened on its own or in tandem with the rear window, is particularly impressive. The new Superb is also the first vehicle manufactured by this brand to feature the Adaptive Frontlight System (AFS) as an “intelligent light”. This adapts the vehicle’s light settings to the driving situation, speed and weather conditions. The environmenttally friendly GreenLine model range developed by Škoda was extended in 2008 to include the Octavia1, the Octavia Estate1 and the new Superb2.
SEAT also expanded its range of eco-friendly vehicles in 2008, adding the second generation of the Ibiza ECOMOTIVE 2 to its portfolio, which already comprised the Leon ECOMOTIVE 2 and the Alhambra ECOMOTIVE 2. This vehicle sets new sustainability standards with CO2 emissions of as little as 98 g/km. Fuel consumption also averages just 3.7 l per 100 km.
Volkswagen’s BlueMotion family stands for fuel efficiency and environment compatibility, but without compromising driving pleasure. After considerably expanding its BlueMotion model range in 2007, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles continued its success story in 2008 and supplemented the BlueMotion offensive by presenting the Caddy BlueMotion2.
With its EGR Euro 5 engines, Scania was the first manufacturer worldwide to introduce a generation of engines that comply with the Euro 5 standards for heavy commercial vehicles that will come into force in 2009 – a breakthrough in engine technology. Compared with conventional engines, they are convenient and extremely cost-efficient in day-to-day use because they do not require exhaust gas aftertreatment or additives.