Volkswagen: An Electric Past And Future: Aspects of the Brand's Recovery Process

Jón Kristófer Stefán Jónsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


The thesis investigates what aspects have influenced Volkswagen´s brand recovery process following the emissions scandal in 2015. Recent studies and reports have indicated that the brand is seemingly back on track. The focus of the thesis surrounds Volkswagen customers, past and present. The communication processes amongst those customers is conceived as social currency from a Volkswagen perspective. The purpose of the thesis is to understand the association between social currency and brand trust, how it has impacted Volkswagen´s brand recovery process following the scandal and its impact on Volkswagen’s future brand strategy. The Volkswagen emissions scandal is explained in detail and an analysis of the Icelandic automotive industry, with special interest in the development of hybrid and electrical vehicle sales. A conceptual framework is presented based on the previous literature within the fields of brand ethics, brand trust and brand social currency. Based on the conceptual framework a qualitative research of Icelandic Volkswagen consumers is conducted. The findings suggest that the emissions scandal did not have a lasting negative influence on its consumers within the Icelandic automotive market. Volkswagen’s change of focus towards sustainable mobility following the crisis, has seemed to have had a beneficial affect on consumers trust and loyalty to the brand. With the trust towards the brand having a positive impact on the loyalty. As consumers seem to perceive sustainable mobility as the future within that industry. This is verified among research within the Icelandic automotive industry, where electrical and hybrid vehicles are the fastest growing segment. The findings also suggest that brand loyalty has led consumers to engage more in the dimensions of Volkswagen´s brand social currency. With findings indicating that the dimensions of conversation, advocacy and information being the most important to the consumers regarding Volkswagens brand social currency. Finally, the findings indicate that Volkswagen´s decision to focus on sustainable mobility bodes well for the future, as consumers view to the automotive industry has changed significantly in the years following the infamous emissions scandal.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages137
SupervisorsKarin Tollin