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VW paves the way for big changes ahead

Seeking to move past its Dieselgate scandal and catch up with the rapidly changing auto industry, VW is focused on a brighter, more nimble future. It wants to hand its brands more power and boost their cooperation.

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller outlined an updated strategy for the company's future during a managerial meeting on Friday.

The strategy - which will set goals until 2025 - aims to make the company more agile and entrepreneurial, in large part by decentralizing decision-making processes.

"In the future, our decisions will be made where it makes the most sense," Müller announced. "In many cases that is with the brands," he added, reasoning that they are more in touch with their customers and their competition.

The corporation, however, would not become a "toothless tiger," he assured. Volkswagen needs to better synergize its size and scope, which, Müller admitted, other large automakers did better.

In so doing, VW would be able to improve its cost-efficiency, earning the money necessary for investing in the development of the technology of the future, in areas such as digitalization and electromobility. It aims to sell one million electric-powered and hybrid automobiles in 2025.

Müller assumed VW's top position in September after previous CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down at the height of the carmaker's emissions-cheating scandal. Müller had kind words for his predecessor's strategy, saying that the shift was largely necessitated by the changing times.

As to what exactly the next era entails, more concrete plans are expected around the time of Volkswagen's annual general assembly on June 22.

Wage win for VW workers

Also on Friday, VW reached a wage deal with employees, who are now set to receive 2.8 percent higher salaries in September, followed by a further two percent in August next year. VW pledged to make an additional one-time payment of 200 euros ($224) into workers' individual pension funds this year, instead of an originally envisaged payment of 150 euros.

"The VW employees are no longer paying for the crisis," said the IG Metall's chief negotiator Harmut Meine, referring to the emissions fraud that rocked Europe's biggest carmaker and spurred a wave of regulatory scrutiny toward VW diesel cars all around the world.

Volkswagen Betriebsversammlung

A VW employee's shirt reads "One Team. One Family."

The deal comes a little over a week after 30,000 workers launched protests to demand higher wages and bonuses at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg. It also largely follows the broad outlines of a similar wage increase package secured by IG Metall for workers in the electrical engineering and metal working sectors.

Volkswagen is currently in the middle of dealing with the public and financial consequences of the scandal for which it has had to set aside around 16 billion euros to cover the potential costs. Nevertheless, the embattled carmaker was able to bolster sales in the first quarter.

jd/uhe (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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