Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the General and Group Works Council and Member of the Presidium of the Supervisory Board, Volkswagen AG
Roland Villinger, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) annd Chief Digital Officer (CDO), AUDI AG

Vision and reality don’t always go hand-in-hand. Likewise, digitalization and e-mobility encounter very real obstacles during implementation. Will feasibility issues cause these ‘future topics’ to fail? Works Council boss Bernd Osterloh certainly isn’t naming a phase-out date for ICEs at VW, for example, saying customer demand would decide that.

Osterloh was far clearer on the company’s digitalization campaign, especially employee preparation activities. „We’re in the middle of the transformation.“ He said VW was working hard to attract new talent and to train current employees who were not from the IT sector.

Audi CDO Roland Villinger said digitalization involved targets on several different levels. Developing apps, features, skills or features was nowhere near as difficult as connecting this level with the vehicle world. „Engineers love features, but digitalization is supposed to make life easier for customers,“ he warned.

Villinger emphasised that a nationwide 5G mobile communications network was critical for implementing forward-looking technologies like autonomous driving successfully in Germany. Yet Germany lagged well behind; other European countries had more technology affinity, while China took a top-down approach by issuing state decrees. Bernd Osterloh’s grim outlook: „We’ve been left behind.“

Automotive Summit 2018 – Executive Summary

In early December 2018, over 600 automotive experts from all over the world – including manufacturers and suppliers, tech and energy companies, politicians and associations – attended the auto industry summit in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 3 – 5 December, the industry’s big hitters discussed strategies, concepts and technologies for tomorrow’s automobiles and the future course of their industry.

We’ve compiled the highlights from the Handelsblatt Auto Summit 2018 in an interactive follow-up report.