Summary of expected developments
The Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management expects the global economy to record slightly stronger growth in 2014 than in the previous year, despite some uncertainties. The financial markets still entail risks resulting above all from the strained debt situation of many countries. While the industrialized nations will probably record moderate rates of expansion, we continue to anticipate that growth will be strongest in the emerging economies of Asia.
The automotive industry remains dependent on global economic developments. We expect that competition in the international automotive markets will continue to increase. The markets in which the Group’s brands operate remain challenging, particularly in Western Europe.
In 2014, we expect trends in the passenger car markets in the individual regions to be mixed. Overall, growth in global demand for new vehicles will probably be somewhat slower than in the reporting period. We anticipate a slight recovery in demand for automobiles in Western Europe, and volumes in the German market are also likely to increase again somewhat in 2014. The passenger car markets in Central and Eastern Europe will only just exceed the prior-year level. The upward trend in North America will probably weaken, while the South American passenger car markets will be on a level with the previous year. We anticipate further growth in 2014 for the markets in the Asia-Pacific region that are strategically important for the Volkswagen Group, although momentum there is expected to be lower than in the previous year.
The global markets for light commercial vehicles will probably experience slight growth overall in 2014, with the individual regions recording mixed trends.
We anticipate that the overall volume in the markets for trucks and buses that are relevant for the Volkswagen Group will see a slight increase in 2014 as against the previous year, with the greatest growth expected in the second half of the year.
We expect demand for automotive financial services to grow worldwide again in 2014.
The Volkswagen Group is well positioned to deal with the mixed developments in the automotive markets. Our strengths include our unique brand portfolio covering almost all segments, from motorcycles through subcompact cars to heavy trucks and buses, our steadily growing presence in all major markets in the world and our wide range of financial services. We offer an extensive range of environmentally friendly, cutting-edge, high-quality vehicles for all markets and customer groups that is unparalleled in the industry. The Volkswagen Group will press ahead with its product initiative across all brands in 2014, and we will modernize and expand our offering by introducing attractive new vehicles. We are pursuing the goal of offering all customers the mobility and innovation they need, sustainably strengthening our competitive position in the process.
We expect that the Volkswagen Group will moderately increase deliveries to customers year-on-year in 2014 in a still challenging market environment. The new production facilities at our Chinese joint ventures will make a significant contribution to this development. We will also sharpen our customer focus across all sales levels and in customer service.
Challenges for the Volkswagen Group will come from the difficult market environment and fierce competition, as well as interest rate and exchange rate volatility and fluctuations in raw materials prices. The modular toolkit system, which we are continuously expanding, will have an increasingly positive effect on the Group’s cost structure.
Depending on the economic conditions, we expect 2014 sales revenue for the Volkswagen Group and its business areas to move within a range of 3% around the prior-year figure.
In terms of the Group’s operating profit, we are expecting an operating return on sales of between 5.5% and 6.5% in 2014, in light of the challenging economic environment, and the same range for the Passenger Cars Business Area. The Commercial Vehicles/ Power Engineering Business Area is likely to moderately exceed the 2013 figure. The operating return on sales in the Financial Services Division is expected to be between 8.0% and 9.0%. We are aiming to achieve a sustainable return on sales before tax at Group level of at least 8% by 2018 at the latest.
In the Automotive Division, the ratio of capital expenditure to sales revenue will fluctuate around a competitive level of 6 – 7% in 2014. The return on investment (RoI) will be below the prior-year level due to the extensive investment program, but still well above our minimum required rate of return of 9%. Net cash flow will probably be moderately lower than in the previous year, but will nevertheless make a significant contribution to strengthening the Group’s finances. Our goal is also to maintain our positive rating compared with the industry as a whole and to continue our solid liquidity policy.
We are working to make even more focused use of the strengths of our multibrand group by constructing new plants and developing new technologies and toolkits. We will successfully meet the challenges of today and tomorrow thanks to a first-rate team, which delivers excellence and ensures the quality of our innovations and products at the highest level. Disciplined cost and investment management and the continuous optimization of our processes remain integral elements of the Volkswagen Group’s Strategy 2018.
This report contains forward-looking statements on the business development of the Volkswagen Group. These statements are based on assumptions relating to the development of the economic and legal environment in individual countries and economic regions, and in particular for the automotive industry, which we have made on the basis of the information available to us and which we consider to be realistic at the time of going to press. The estimates given entail a degree of risk, and the actual developments may differ from those forecast. Consequently, any unexpected fall in demand or economic stagnation in our key sales markets, such as Western Europe (and especially Germany), the USA, Brazil, China, or Russia will have a corresponding impact on the development of our business. The same applies in the event of a significant shift in current exchange rates, mostly against the euro and primarily in US dollars, sterling, Chinese renminbi, Swiss francs, Mexican pesos, Swedish kronor, Polish zloty and Australian dollars. In addition, expected business developments may vary if this report’s assessments develop in a way other than we are currently expecting.