Arrested development: VW restructures its vehicle-building process

For the first time, the company will put less focus on the suits up top and more focus on the development teams actually building the cars.

Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/Corbis
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VW hopes that breaking its vehicle development into four discrete groups will accelerate model deployment and keep costs down.

Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/Corbis

If there's one thing the world has learned from Dieselgate, it's that Volkswagen's corporate structure is massively, pointlessly complicated. The company itself is finally coming to this conclusion, as well, and to improve itself going forward, it's doing a bit of restructuring.

"We have to ensure that the corporate responsibility for each vehicle project is clearly assigned," said Dr. Herbert Diess, VW's management board chairman, in a statement. For the first time, the development team will retain control of things like quality, cost-effectiveness and deadline compliance. Before this, those responsibilities were spread across VW's vast empire, with orders being barked from on high.

Volkswagen's future product development will be broken into four groups -- Small, Compact, Mid- and Full-Size, and Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEV). Each of these groups will partner up with a new group, the Strategy and Products Division, which will help each group develop vehicle life-cycles and coordinate product events.

"This allows us to provide clear structures and responsibilities, which carve out more time for the workforce to focus on their core tasks," Diess said. "Personal responsibility, initiative and team-spirit will be strengthened as a result."

While it will take a while to figure out whether or not this reorganization will improve things within Volkswagen, it's good to see the company working to address the issues that contributed to its diesel-emissions brouhaha.

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