The Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management continues to expect competition in the international automotive markets to get fiercer in the coming years. The market environment in which the Group’s brands operate is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly in certain European countries. Uncertainties surrounding global economic growth continue to have a negative effect on market development. The financial markets in particular still entail risks resulting above all from the strained debt situation of many countries.
Growth in the global markets for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013, albeit at a slower rate to start with. We are anticipating the strongest growth in this period in the Asia-Pacific region as well as in South America, the USA and Russia. The Volkswagen Group already has a large share in many of these markets. We will strengthen this position by expanding production capacities and building more local production facilities that will, in part, produce vehicles developed specifically for these countries. Demand for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles is likely to weaken in Western Europe. The Volkswagen Group will maintain its leading market position in this region.
Following the increase in demand for trucks and buses in 2011, we expect growth to continue in the global markets in 2012 and 2013, albeit at a slower pace.
We believe that automotive financial services will continue to grow in importance in the coming years.
The Volkswagen Group is well positioned thanks to its multibrand strategy, attractive range of models, growing presence in all major regions of the world and wide range of financial services. We therefore expect our sales to customers to exceed the previous years’ levels overall in 2012 and 2013. Our Chinese joint venture companies, as well as the new production facilities in Russia, the USA and India, will make a significant contribution to this development.
We are anticipating increasingly intense competition in a challenging market environment, particularly in certain European countries. Interest and exchange rate volatility, as well as rising commodities prices, will represent challenges.
We expect sales revenue in the Automotive and Financial Services Divisions to increase in 2012 and 2013 as against 2011. Our goal for operating profit is to match the 2011 level in 2012, and to exceed it in 2013. We believe that this will be the case for the Passenger Cars and Light Commercial Vehicles Business Area and it is also being forecast by the Trucks and Buses, Power Engineering Business Area – which remains affected by high depreciation and amortization expenses from purchase price allocation, among other things – as well as the Financial Services Division.
In the medium term, we aim to achieve a sustainable return on sales before tax at Group level of at least 8%. The average ratio of capital expenditure to sales revenue in the Automotive Division will fluctuate around the competitive level of 6%. Our goal is also to maintain our positive rating compared with the industry as a whole and to continue our solid liquidity policy.
In order to master the challenges of the automotive future and to achieve the Strategy 2018 targets, the decisive advantages for the Volkswagen Group lie in its unique brand portfolio, the young, innovative and environmentally friendly model range, the broad international presence with local value added in many key regions, the significant synergy potential in the Group-wide development of technologies and models, and finally in its financial strength. With the construction of new plants, the development of technologies and platforms, and agreements on strategic partnerships, we are working on more selectively utilizing the strengths of our multibrand group. Disciplined cost and investment management remains an integral part of our Strategy 2018.