Volkswagen Group takes a new approach to sustainable travel in Milton Keynes

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 12 Jan 2015 13:59
Bannister describes his ambitions for Smartgo Milton Keynes

Volkswagen’s Andrew Bannister explains the company's involvement in Smartgo Milton Keynes and how this ties in with the VW’s CSR strategy.

Andrew Bannister is Group Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Volkswagen Group United Kingdom Limited, based in Milton Keynes. He is also Chairman of Smartgo Milton Keynes.

The Smartgo Milton Keynes programme provides local employers and their staff with a range of travel benefits and services to help make commuting and business travel cheaper, easier and more sustainable. The programme’s membership package includes travel incentives and discounts, transport expertise and collaboration opportunities with other employers and transport providers.

Smartgo Milton Keynes was developed and is co-ordinated by specialist sustainable travel consultancy, Go Travel Solutions with support from Milton Keynes Council and Volkswagen.

We asked Andrew a few questions to explain Volkswagen’s involvement in Smartgo Milton Keynes and how this ties in with the company’s CSR strategy.

Q. What are Volkswagen Group's (VWG's) connections with Milton Keynes, your UK home city?

A. We moved into our present HQ site in 1979 and have been continuously present here ever since. Together with our sister company, Volkswagen Financial Services Limited, we are major stakeholders in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area.

Q. Milton Keynes has not really got a traffic problem. Is there a need for Smartgo?

A. Smartgo is not only about solving present-day traffic problems, but also (and even more importantly) about enabling sustainable economic growth by making the most of the existing transport infrastructure. That means providing offers, advice and information to help people make intelligent, healthy, efficient and environmentally beneficial choices about mobility.

Q. What are your aspirations for Smartgo Milton Keynes?

A. At the moment, following a successful launch, Smartgo is very much in a growth phase. Over the medium term, through 2015, I would like to see it increase membership until it represents at least 30,000 individual staff through as wide a range of organisations as possible. In parallel with that I would like to see its existing travel offers extended, and finally I believe that it should reach out to as many stakeholder organisations as possible to improve both its influence and its understanding.

Q. Smartgo Milton Keynes focuses on sustainable travel solutions for businesses. How can the car be part of the solution?

A. There are many types of journey for which the car is either the best solution, or sometimes even the only solution. At Volkswagen Group we expect that to remain the case for the foreseeable future, and of course we are presently focusing very much on continuous improvement in the environmental performance of our cars through improving existing conventional powertrain and through the introduction of alternatives such as plug-in hybrids and battery electricity vehicles.

Q. Why would a business like VWG that is focused on selling cars, want to be part of an initiative that is promoting other modes of travel?

A. There is no contradiction – on a global basis, the Volkswagen Group aims to become the world’s most sustainable automaker by 2018. To achieve this we need to utilise a diverse portfolio of mobility solutions, investing in not only the most environmentally-friendly vehicle technology, but also a range of alternative transport modes, and ensuring each is used where it is healthiest, most efficient and most sustainable.

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