Seeking savings, VW recasts vehicle development

Wolfgang Bernhard wants greater budget discipline

Wolfgang Bernhard

Wolfsburg, Germany. Wolfgang Bernhard, chairman of the Volkswagen brand group, is preparing a realignment of technical development and project responsibilities.

Bernhard said he wants stricter adherence to new-model cost goals and long-term savings that will increase VW returns, according to his restructuring plan presentation delivered recently to management in Wolfsburg. Bernhard, an industrial engineer, said his most important goals relate to "the creation of product lines" and "significant process optimization."

In the future, responsibility for both product and financial results will be combined. Thus, the manager for a vehicle class will have complete responsibility for the success of each project.

Automobilwoche has learned that Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, who is development manager for complete vehicles, is expected to coordinate the E1 product line. That includes the platforms used to made Polo- and Golf-class models, plus the car that will result from the 3-K Project.

VW wants to have the 3-K car built in Brazil and China at a manufacturing cost of just 3,000 euros a unit, beginning in 2008.

Eckhard Scholz, the head of body development, is expected to lead the E2 product line (cabriolets, minivans and large SUVs).

Bernhard wants to expand VW's platform strategy, with "expert themes," such as vehicle safety and business-operation stability, and "module themes," such as seats and climate control, worked out across each product line.

A similar matrix with vertical and horizontal reporting structures is now being introduced at Mercedes-Benz by Thomas Weber, the board member in charge or research and technology at Mercedes parent DaimlerChrysler AG, Bernhard's former employer.

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