New Mobility: VW Meets Generation Y

What moves Generation Y, and more importantly, how are they moving? VW Group Board Member Jürgen Stackmann takes great interest in this field. Via a chat app, he meets with a group of students that are also involved in the industry.

The students of the Ostfalia University and Prof. Dr. Antje Helpup meet board member Jürgen Stackmann via chat. Photo: Roman Brodel

The students of the Ostfalia University and Prof. Dr. Antje Helpup meet board member Jürgen Stackmann via chat. Photo: Roman Brodel

Jürgen Stackmann has a high degree of responsibility when it comes to digital transformation. In his position as VW brand board member, he is also responsible for marketing and sales. A flash of expectation and joyful anticipation crosses his face as he opens the chat group with the students.

The students chatting with Jürgen Stackmann. Photo: ETM

The students chatting with Jürgen Stackmann. Photo: ETM

Katharina Steube, Miriam Wohlgemuth, Alexander Vogel and Marvin Leicht, all between 22 and 25, are pleasantly surprised at how easy-going Stackmann interacts with them, and quickly let their curiosity run free. As business and economic scientists based in Wolfsburg, they have enough knowledge of the industry to pose trickier questions, and don’t hold back questioning the future of the automobile as we know it. “I have no problem with that,” says Stackmann. “I myself have four children, each of which has a different view of the motorcar. One son isn’t interested in owning a car, the other cherishes his Golf GTI. One daughter cannot wait to get her driver’s license, the other sees cars as nothing more than a mode of transport.”

Photos: Roman Brodel

Photos: Roman Brodel

What is attractive about the car?

The students also query the attractiveness of car ownership in the future. They are accustomed to using public transport to travel to university, and often read or answer a few emails on the way. This is a good basis for Stackmann, as self-driving cars will present this option, with the added bonus of individuality. “The freedom to move independently, wherever and whenever you want, is a freedom that no-one will want to relinquish in the future,” he claims.
Having grown up with the advantages of e-commerce, the quartet also question the traditional sales structure of the automotive giants. “Do we actually still need car dealerships?” Alexander Vogel wants to know. The 23-year old wishes to pursue a career in automotive sales. Stackmann has already been waiting for this question to arise, and grins at the display of his tablet. He refers to the relevance that configuration tools and virtual viewers on websites have already amassed. But for Stackmann, the dealer is and will remain the cornerstone: “Only there can you physically touch and test drive the car. And then there are all the services provided afterwards.”

Photos: Roman Brodel

Photos: Roman Brodel

Who is shaping mobility?

“Will it not be the Googles and Apples of this world that define the future of mobility?” Stackmann understands the question, as the day-to-day involvement of these companies in our lives is already enormous. He declares himself open to cooperation with the IT giants, and refers to his company’s current cooperation with IBM and their artificial intelligence system, Watson. “It helps us to provide people the right offers at the right time and in the right place.” By “offers,” he also means tailored mobility solutions.

It is unavoidable that his chat companions also probe the innovative force of the automotive giant. The passenger car too will host artificial intelligence, enabling it to better support the user, perhaps by comparing driving destinations from the calendar with the range of the car’s drive energy, and making recommendations based on this information. 2.6 Million VW drivers are already using the brand’s own Car Net. This will involve spoken language more and more in future. It will be as natural as using assistants such as Siri, or Alexa.

Jürgen Stackmann has been the member of the board of management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand since November 2015. Photo: Roland Niepaul

Jürgen Stackmann has been the member of the board of management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand since November 2015. Photo: Roland Niepaul

In order to drive VW Group to the forefront of new mobility, the board member wants to organize the entire brand more competitively. Accordingly, the operating margin should climb to six percent by 2025, at which point VW should also be aspiring to the e-mobility market leadership.
The students absorb all this with interest, as the corporation is a very interesting employer. Indeed, graduate Miriam Wohlgemuth has already joined the firm. She is practicing her dream job of Manager of Happiness in VW Group’s Digital Lab. She ensures the happiness and motivation of the team. A long-­established position in Silicon Valley, the job title often attracts confused looks in other areas. It appears that cars and their sales structure are not the only areas in flux; the jobs around them are also undergoing change.

Automotive Trend Forum for Forward-Thinkers

The Automotive Trend Forum (ATF) provides a platform for exchange between the managers and a new, dedicated generation of employees in the industry. This international scientific and economic summit tackles current trends in automotive sales and marketing. The one-day event takes place in Wolfsburg’s CongressPark. In attendance are approximately 600 international representatives from the worlds of business and science. High-caliber experts from around the world present ­current studies, best practice examples and demonstrate problem-solving approaches to a variety of challenges. In addition to many managers from the Volkswagen Group, delegates from other the automotive manufacturers, OEM industry, car trade and mid-sized business attend the ATF. The majority of the scientific representatives are professors, research associates and students from Ostfalia University and its international partner institutions.

In attendance of the forum are about 600 international representatives from the worlds of business and science. Photo: Kurt Ringlebe

In attendance of the forum are about 600 international representatives from the worlds of business and science. Photo: Kurt Ringlebe

For more information on the conference: www.atf-wolfsburg.de/en

Related articles
 
Magazine Topics
 
Newsletter