Following a recent supervisory board meeting, the Volkswagen Group said it would spend almost EUR44bn (US$50bn) on e-mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalisation of its vehicles and plants by 2023.

This is about a third of planned group expenditure for 2019-2023 and is the outcome of the planning round now completed and signed off by the board.

"One aim of group strategy is to speed up the pace of innovation. We are focussing our investments on the future fields of mobility and systematically implementing [that]," CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement.

Focus on improved profits

The group said it wants to improve earnings at all its brands and companies "in order to finance the enormous challenges of the future from its own resources" and programmes to secure the agreed targets have been initiated.

Finance and IT chief Frank Witter said: "We stand by our investment and cost targets, we are focused and disciplined, and we will systematically continue on our chosen path."

Both capital expenditure and research and development ratios at the group's automotive division will continue to decline to a competitive 6% from 2020 onwards. The net cash flow target of a minimum of EUR10bn by 2020 remains in place.

"The diesel crisis will, however, still impact cash outflows in planning years 2019 and 2020," VW said.

Joint ventures in China are not consolidated and are not included in VW's plans. These JVs provide their own funding for investments in plants and products.

Partnerships critical for future success

In addition to investment planning, the supervisory board is also mulling "groundbreaking" future projects.

Talks with Ford about an industrial cooperation announced earlier "are progressing positively so far", VW said, adding the two rivals "complement each other very well in terms of both products and regions".

As announced earlier, joint development and manufacture of a range of light commercial vehicles is at the core of envisaged cooperation with VW "expecting significant synergy effects from the potential to lower costs or increase performance via scales" though the pair would "nevertheless remain competitors, as the proposed cooperation does in no way concern commercial, marketing or pricing strategies.

"Additional fields of cooperation outside the light commercial vehicle segment with the potential for expanding collaboration have also been identified," according to Ford.