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Jost: ‘We have a great plan’

As the brand’s chief strategist, Michael Jost knows the course that Volkswagen will take – including its corporate strategy, its drive systems, and its product portfolio. inside asked him about the roles that SUVs and electric mobility will be playing.

Michael Jost, Head of Strategy for the Volkswagen brand, is convinced the brand will be riding a strong SUV wave for quite some time.

Mr. Jost, you are shaping the future of our car models. Do you have a crystal ball?

No, but I do have a crystal clear view of our model of the market. What our strategy has to do is derive an attractive, emotionally evocative, and economical portfolio from it. Product portfolios start with ­comprehensive analyses, so we base our work on statistics and market research. For example: Who are our customers? We try to gather all the information about factors such as their preferences, ages, and how ready they are to buy cars. And we do this for every segment and for every car, worldwide, from the up! to the Atlas. Previous and current preferences, combined with the latest trends, point the way into the future.

For our brand, the future means SUVs. Volkswagen will have 19 SUV models in its product range by the year 2020. Why is that?

SUVs have a lot of advantages as far as customers are concerned: the cars have an emotionally appealing design and high seating. It’s easy to get in and out of them, they’re spacious, they offer a sense of safety and security, and they have a lot of traction. The first SUVs were in the premium market, but since then we’ve democratized our SUV range. The T-Roc is a superb example. It’s more compact and more affordable than the Tiguan, which makes it more accessible for a lot of people.

What makes you so sure?

The T-Roc is in the compact segment, which is the biggest segment in the automobile industry and one with enormous purchasing power. This crossover is an outstanding fit for many households. It’s especially well suited for Europe, and will cover a lot of ground.

I.D. Crozz – our SUV of the future

The Volkswagen brand introduced the I.D. Crozz a few months ago at the Shanghai Auto Show. This four-door crossover with an electric drive is the third member of the I.D. family. Both a coupé and an SUV, it is scheduled to enter production in 2020.

» There’s no contradiction ­between SUVs and electric drives. «

When the electric mobility campaign starts up with the I.D. in 2020, will the SUV boom be over already?

I’m convinced that SUVs are a major wave we’ll be riding for a long time. And there’s no contradiction with electric drives. Take the I.D. Crozz – it’s as big as a Tiguan and fully electric. Our plan is to make nearly all of today’s car types and sizes on the basis of the Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB). This will give us a lot of ­possibilities and a big competitive edge.

What role will the MEB play in an electrified world?

A lot of cars in the Group already use technology developed by our brand. We can be proud of that. The Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) is one example, and now with the MEB we’re offering another flexible modular system as a standard for the Group. Given its scalable architecture, we can use it as the basis for all future cars worldwide.

Is the MEB ushering in a new age?

Yes, and not just with respect to the drive system. Our plan is to keep our cars up to date throughout their entire life cycles in the future. That means more than just updating road maps on a daily basis, which will soon be standard – I’m talking about upgrades. Here’s one example: Let’s say you buy a used I.D. in 2025, but want more functions than the previous owner had, and the latest connectivity features. Your dealer will be able to give you an upgrade to the configuration you want. Along with the switch from conventional to electric drives, that’s the second transformation that we’re putting into place. And this technology will gradually apply to our MQB-based cars as well.

What’s your wish for the brand’s future?

For our plan to be fully implemented. For that to happen, we have to master the current challenges and further reduce the complexity of our automotive projects. Then we have to be focused, and also be enthusiastic about putting our plan into practice. Everyone can do their part in helping to achieve this.