Volkswagen's top management expects further disputes with labour leaders on cost savings as it pushes an efficiency drive to help fund a post-dieselgate strategic shift. But, as Sara Hemrajani reports, there are signs the German automaker is moving on from the emissions scandal.
It's the second time since dieselgate that Volkswagen executives have faced shareholders at the annual meeting. And to some extent they still needed their hard hats. VW now rejecting calls to share the results of a key investigation into the emissions cheating scandal. But 20 months later, the German auto maker seems to have moved on. Its troubled core division reported soaring first quarter profit last week, although costs reductions were the main driver and they come with problems of their own. (SOUNDBITE) (German) VW GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MATTHIAS MUELLER, SAYING: "Our path is undoubtedly challenging, it causes friction and sometimes even conflict. But all those involved are clearly aware of what's at stake. And they know that their efforts are truly worthwhile." The desire to ditch the word diesel is reflected in VW's strategy. Volkswagen's been holding talks with possible partners in Europe and China on battery cells. It's part of a plan to triple investment in electric to around 9 billion euros over the next five years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "It does feel now as if Volkswagen's management have got control of the time line and the announcements and it's time to do the repair job and also change the business away from the focus on diesel products towards more energy and climate friendly models." Toyota's challenges could also benefit VW. The Japanese company sees profits sliding by as much as a fifth over the coming year. The world's second largest automaker has been hit by a strong yen and increased spending on a U.S. sales push. It sold 10.25 million vehicles over the year but lost its top-selling car maker status to Volkswagen.