The rise of Toyota to the bestselling position in the industry beginning 2008 has led to potentially massive problems due to the sharing of faulty components and owing to its large size too. Toyota recalled at least 12 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, Volkswagen was just putting the finishing touches on its "modular toolbox" manufacturing system, which is a mass-scale platform-sharing system that the automaker will use in line with its goal to outperform Toyota and all other vehicle manufacturers by 2018.
It’s believed that VW's chief executive Martin Winterkorn has become persistent in testing the first vehicles such as the Audi A3 due to come out of the new modular transverse toolkit. In fact, a consultant who knows the automaker well said that Winterkorn was "completely merciless" with the tests.
The consultant also said that the automaker knows that the modular toolbox is a risk.
Toyota's rise and its subsequent travails have not been lost on the managers of VW in Wolfsburg. Managing a vehicle company with its wide range of technologies, products and regional operations poses challenges that increase in proportion to a size of the manufacturer.
The crisis of Toyota exposed a company with a limited management that was unable to rise to the challenge of handling a worldwide organization. The managers of Toyota blamed some of the crisis on poor training of offshore staff and a failure to inculcate them in the company's culture.
Currently, VW has 10 truck and car brands. It also has 500,000 employees, around 50% of which are employed abroad. By 2018, that proportion will increase to around 60%.