VW’s #dieselgate presser: Let bygones be bygones, and dump that Airbus

VW presser

If you went to Volkswagen’s much publicized press conference “on the current status of the clarification process concerning the diesel issue and on the realignment of the Group” (am copy pasting and not making it up) and if you hoped to come home with huge revelations, you left disappointed. There were a few juicy tidbits however.

The way the presser was marketed should have told us that this would be a Good News Only Conference. It was transmitted live on three satellites in full HD glory for the richer news organizations, and it was streamed over the Internet for the riff-raff. Sufferers of lackabandwidth could follow my live tweets. Such an array of technology usually is only deployed around major auto shows, or product launches. Nothing bad can possibly come of this.

The big message was simple, but not very powerful: We slipped up, but enough with the histrionics, let bygones be bygones, and let’s focus on a bright future.

CEO Matthias Müller delivered his speech in folksy Bavarian. Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch hid his Austrian upbringing and spoke in perfectly assimilated High German. Gone was the former haughty arrogance, and it won’t be missed.

As for dieselgate,  Pötsch and Müller kept advancing the story of a small group of rogue engineers who did it all on their own, and that nobody on top knew anything about it. The reporters in attendance neglected to ask why, then, were the R&D chiefs of Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche removed from their posts immediately after the scandal became public? For lack of parental oversight? Lawyers will ask that question, never mind. We were promised that in the future, “four eyes” will look at the software, as if in the past, an unsupervised nerd could just code away by his lonesome.

As for the juicy tidbits, Volkswagen will sell its big Airbus. Nothing was said about its fleet of sleek Dassault Falcon 7X long-range trijets. Müller said that in the future, top managers at Volkswagen no longer will travel with that royal retinue, so the smaller jets will do just nicely.

Müller said that “the diesel image is damaged,” and he made courageous announcements about s big electrification push, but at the same time, he said, nearly begging, that “we need diesel to meet 2020 emission targets.”

Volkswagen’s China residents can breathe easier. The Hallway Radio heard that the Group Board level seat of China chief Jochem Heizmann may get scrapped. Not so, we heard today. China will remain the only region with a seat in Volkswagen’s Group Board. Group level sales and R&D portfolios will be scrapped, with brands responsible for these functions. Hated former Group Sales Chief Christian Klingler is gone. He found a job at the Swiss dealer group Frey, no automaker apparently wanted him.

There will be a new budget line, said a logo in a chart. Nothing was said about it. The dear Dailykanban reader knows, the line is being developed in China, by FAW.