VW targets Toyota with €51 billion in investments

German automaker Volkswagen will invest more than €50 billion in new and improved models over the next five years in a bid to unseat Toyota as the world leader in car manufacturing.

VW targets Toyota with €51 billion in investments
Photo: DPA

Most of the investment will be pumped into German plants, the firm announced Friday, and will focus on the development of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Of the €41.3 billion in spending on fixed assets, some 57 percent will flow into German production. Of the development investment for new or improved models, totalling more than €10.3 billion, the largest chunk will go to Germany, where most of the firm’s vehicles are engineered.

The €51.6 billion investment is part of an ambitious growth plan drawn up by VW chairman Martin Winterkorn to usurp Toyota’s position as the world’s top automaker by 2018.

“The Volkswagen company will help shape technological change in the auto industry in decisive places and invest further in environmentally friendly technology, efficient engines and new models,” Winterkorn said.

With new plants in Russia, India and the United States, the Wolfsburg-based company aims to open up underdeveloped markets.

It hopes to lift its worldwide sales from 6.3 million vehicles in 2009 to more than 10 million by 2018. Toyota sold 7.8 million vehicles in 2009. By the end of October 2010, VW had shifted just short of 6 million units – a rise of 12.4 percent on the same time last year.

Some of the investment projects are already known. Workers’ committee head Bernd Osterloh said €400 million would be pumped into production of the Tiguan compact crossover vehicle (CUV) at the Wolfsburg plant and transmission development at the Kassel site. VW plans to raise the daily production capacity of the Tiguan from the current 750 units a day to 1,000 units.

Production of the new pick-up utility, the Amarok, will begin in Hannover, with the expectation that up to 40,000 of the sturdy vehicles will be made by the middle of 2012.

DAPD/The Local/dw

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Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium

At least two people were hospitalised Tuesday after a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 when his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium
The activist lands on the turf of the Allianz Arena. credit: dpa | Christian Charisius

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick-off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands, where the casualties happened.

The activist was arrested soon after landing.

A Munich police spokesman told AFP that at least two people suffered head injuries and “both had to be taken to hospital, we don’t know yet how serious the injuries are”.

The police spokesman said the activist appears to have escaped injury, but “we are considering various criminal charges. Munich police has zero understanding for political actions that put lives at risk”.

UEFA also slammed the botched stunt.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

The parachutist above the stadium. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA.

Greenpeace said they regretted any harm caused.

“This protest was never intended to disrupt the game or hurt people,” read a Twitter post on Greenpeace’s official German account.

“We hope that everyone is OK and that no one was seriously injured. Greenpeace actions are always peaceful and non-violent.”

“Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.”

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