Volkswagen pumps €20m into Sustainability Council and low-carbon aspirations

Volkswagen has this week continued its brand rebuilding process in the wake of dieselgate, by announcing a new €20m fund to finance projects related to lowering carbon emissions a meeting emissions regulations post-2025.

The company’s recently established Sustainability Council elected founding director of the UN Global Compact Georg Kell to act as chair as Volskwagen set its agenda for future planning related to emissions reductions at the Council’s inaugural meeting on Monday (24 October).

Volkswagen has pledged €20m to the Council to meet vehicle regulations set to come into force after 2025, with immediate projects set to be established as early as 2017. The Council will also aid the company’s “transformation from car manufacturer to mobility services provider.”

“In today´s inaugural meeting we have already experienced a very intense and open discussion,” the Council’s chair Georg Kell said. “We are fully aware of the large transformation that lays ahead Volkswagen Group. We were invited to be part of this journey and are very much looking forward on being actively involved in the development of this journey.”

The Council, which was appointed at the end of September this year, will place an emphasis on Volkswagen’s ongoing portfolio production, which is now placing a greater emphasis on electric vehicles (EV).

The company previously announced it will focus future production on EV portfolios, which will see 20 different models released across its VW, Audi and Porsche divisions by 2020; but only after the “very last vehicle” from the dieselgate scandal has been recalled and fixed.

Compensation payday

Despite Volkswagen baulking on European compensation over the scandal, a US judge has today (26 October) approved a record $14.7bn settlement, which will see the company spend up to $10bn on owner compensation and buybacks in the US.

It has been suggested that Volkswagen’s rigging on emissions tests across 11 million cars caused nearly one million tonnes of air pollution annually. In acknowledgement of this, the company has agreed to pay $4.7bn towards US-based programmes aimed at offsetting emissions and producing cleaner vehicles.

A year prior to the scandal – which led to the resignation of chief executive Martin Winterkorn – Volkswagen was revealing good progress towards its plan to become “the world’s most sustainable automobile company”. The company will hope that the launch of a the financially-back Sustainability Council will enable it to go back to this original plan.

Tales from the tailpipe

Volkswagen’s misdemeanours in relation to emissions has added extra scrutiny on the transport sector, which is seemingly lobbying to ease regulations and soften emissions standards.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that new European cars with petrol engines will be allowed to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50% under a draft EU regulation backed by the UK and most other EU states.

The UK’s involvement goes against recent claims by the Government that it is “leading the push” for greater emissions testing in diesel cars. Although this claim has been branded as “misleading”, after a Department for Transport (DfT) investigation revealed that some vehicles are still producing up to 12 times the EU maximum limit for road-tested emissions.

Matt Mace

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