Roller-bearing manufacturer, SKF says while the immediate crisis engulfing Volkswagen will eventually dissipate, the scandal could deeply affect the way the automaker undertakes its business in the future.
The furore surrounding Volkswagen’s emissions testing procedures formed a constant backdrop to this week’s Scandinavian automotive supplier association (FKG) conference in Gothenburg, which otherwise was conducted to the beat of a relatively optimistic manufacturing drum as Europe’s economies gradually recover.
“I think this will blow over, but it will change Volkswagen fundamentally,” said SKF CEO, Alrik Danielson at the Gothenburg event. “I know a lot of people at VW who are really good and I know up to now, VW has been chaotic. A lot of good engineers are really unhappy.
“Volkswagen will not look the same in five years – will it be the same company at all? It got high enough in the hierarchy where no-one dared say anything.”
There was speculation at the conference VW would strip out some cost of its emissions pickle by asking suppliers to be more competitive, a situation at which the SKF chief raised a metaphorical eyebrow.
“We have direct contact with Volkswagen, but also smaller suppliers need to b part of the development cycle,” added Danielson. “They need to have their own technological recommendations.
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“VW says to shareholders, you don’t have to worry because we will take the cost from the supplier level. Now Volkswagen needs help and we then have to get our balance sheet at their disposal.
“That is a rather serious way of looking at the value chain. The supply chain could help here.”
Widening his discussion, Danielson noted he drove a Volvo hybrid and that if the technology existed to eek out a further 100km, he would transfer to fully electric.
“Of course, this will come,” he added.”It is not a question of if, just when. I agree, it has taken far too long. When it does happen, it will be much faster than we thought.
“Once the battery issue has been solved, it will take off like a rocket.”
Danielson also revealed SKF would make a significant investment in Gothenburg to fully automate production.