Christian Strenger, a loud critic of Volkswagen and a former member of the commission that drafted the German Corporate Governance Code, sees little chance that the company’s supervisors will expose themselves to closer scrutiny. The Supervisory Board has only one member out of 20 who is not a representative of the three main shareholders or the Volkswagen employees.
“Nothing will change as long as the old guard is there,” said Mr. Strenger.
The diesel scandal remains a financial burden. The company announced in its annual report this week that potential litigation liabilities, for example from shareholders who claim the company misled them, could cost € 4.2 billion, or $ 5 billion. This is on top of the tens of billions of euros that Volkswagen has been paying in the form of fines and bills since 2017 after it admitted to having programmed diesel cars to produce fewer emissions under test conditions than in normal use.
This week’s investors were more focused on the future of Volkswagen than on the past.
In a series of appearances starting Monday, Mr. Diess and other executives outlined a 35 billion euro plan to build six battery factories, install a global network of charging stations, and employ 10,000 software engineers to work on autonomous driving and other new ones Technologies to work. After SAP, the German software manufacturer with which the company manages functions such as logistics and finance, Volkswagen would become the largest software company in Europe.
Volkswagen’s voting shares ended the week in Frankfurt trade up 20 percent and have increased 75 percent since December, despite the company’s sales dropping 37 percent for 2020 following the pandemic. Shares have more than tripled since 2015.
Volkswagen also benefited from a report released earlier this month by analysts at Swiss bank UBS. He rated Volkswagen as the traditional automaker best positioned to compete with Tesla, given that it is already able to economically mass-produce electric cars.
Volkswagen’s advantage stems from the decision made at that meeting in 2015, weeks after the emissions scandal became public.
Executives approved the development of a collection of mix-and-match components that will serve as the basis for a range of electric models, including sedans, SUVs, and vans. The standardized platform called Modular Electrification Toolbox could also be used by other corporate brands such as Audi.