Well, that was ambitious. Volkswagen recently announced a major doctrinal shift in how frequently it will update its model lines. New generations of models will now arrive every five years instead of seven, a change that will bring improvements to customers much faster than before. In addition, models will receive a cosmetic redesign three years after every generational change. The total effect will be a more frequently updated lineup of vehicles.
In addition, Volkswagen will invest $7 billion in vehicle design and production in the U.S. in the next four years. We know of at least one new model that will be produced soon in the U.S., a seven-seat, full-size SUV that will launch in 2016. If the rest of the industry is any indication, this SUV will likely be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
Across the larger VW Group, the company is looking to trim from among its 300+ model family. An acceleration of vehicle updates is a bold move as it commits the company to ongoing research and development for every model on a fixed schedule. However, more frequent updates could also stimulate demand and provide a greater return on investment for research. It could be that Volkswagen realized they’re already invested enough in R&D that they should take greater advantage of their findings.
With the MQB platform, Volkswagen has been able to streamline vehicle frames onto a single, flexible frame. This frame can be applied to multiple model lines, thereby eliminating one element of development costs. A nice complement to this would be if Volkswagen would develop a similarly flexible engine that could be applied to its vehicle lineup, much as several other automakers are doing. These efficiencies could free up R&D monies for areas like technology and user interface.
For now, Volkswagen is taking a step closer to the frequently updating worlds of smartphones and movie franchises. “New!” has always been a good selling point, so we’re glad to see benefits for consumers arriving with greater speed. When it comes to Volkswagens for sale in Raleigh, think Leith Volkswagen of Raleigh and stop by.