Accounting policies


With certain exceptions, such as financial instruments measured at fair value and provisions for pensions and other post-employment benefits, items in the Volkswagen Group are accounted for under the historical cost convention. The methods used to measure the individual items are explained in more detail below.


Purchased intangible assets are recognized at cost and amortized over their useful life using the straight-line method. This relates in particular to software, which is normally amortized over three years.

In accordance with IAS 38, research costs are recognized as expenses when incurred.

Since the fourth quarter of 2019, development costs for future series products and other internally generated intangible assets are capitalized at cost, provided the cash-generating unit to which the respective intangible asset is attributable is not impaired. If the criteria for recognition as assets are not met, the expenses are recognized in the income statement in the year in which they are incurred.

Capitalized development costs include all direct and indirect costs that are directly attributable to the development process. The costs are amortized using the straight-line method from the start of production over the expected life cycle of the models or powertrains developed – generally between two and ten years.

Amortization recognized during the year is allocated to the relevant functional areas in the income statement.

Brand names from business combinations usually have an indefinite useful life and are therefore not amortized. An indefinite useful life is usually the result of a brand’s further use and maintenance.

Goodwill, intangible assets with indefinite useful lives and intangible assets that are not yet available for use are tested for impairment at least once a year. Assets in use and other intangible assets with finite useful lives are tested for impairment only if there are specific indications that they may be impaired. The Volkswagen Group generally applies the higher of value in use and fair value less costs to sell of the relevant cash-generating unit to determine the recoverable amount of goodwill and intangible assets with finite and indefinite useful lives. Since the fourth quarter of 2019, normally the respective brand is the cash-generating unit that is used as the testing level. Measurement of value in use is based on management’s current planning. This planning is based on expectations regarding future global economic trends and on assumptions derived from those trends about the markets for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, market shares and the profitability of the products. The planning for the Financial Services segment is likewise prepared on the basis of these expectations, and also reflects the relevant market penetration rates and regulatory requirements. The planning for the Power Engineering segment reflects expectations about trends in the various individual markets. The planning includes reasonable assumptions about macroeconomic trends (exchange rate, interest rate and commodity price trends) and historical developments. The planning period generally covers five years. For information on the assumptions applied to the detailed planning period, please refer to the Report on Expected Developments, which is part of the Management Report. For subsequent years, plausible assumptions are made regarding future trends. The planning assumptions are adapted to reflect the current state of knowledge.

Estimation of cash flows is generally based on the expected growth trends for the markets concerned. The estimates for the cash flows following the end of the planning period are generally based on a growth rate of up to 1% p.a. (previous year: up to 1% p.a.) in the Passenger Cars segment, and on a growth rate of up to 1% p.a. (previous year: up to 1% p.a.) in the Power Engineering and Commercial Vehicles segments.

Value in use is determined for the purpose of impairment testing of goodwill, indefinite-lived intangible assets and finite-lived intangible assets – mainly capitalized development costs – using the following pretax weighted average cost of capital (WACC) rates, which are adjusted if necessary for country-specific discount factors:

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Passenger Cars segment


5.7 %


5.5 %

Commercial Vehicles segment


7.7 %


6.8 %

Power Engineering segment


7.9 %


7.8 %

The WACC rates are calculated based on the risk-free rate of interest, a market risk premium and the cost of debt. Additionally, specific peer group information on beta factors and leverage are taken into account; changes in the leverage as a result of the initial application of IFRS 16 are taken into account appropriately. The composition of the peer groups used to determine beta factors is continuously reviewed and adjusted if necessary.


Property, plant and equipment is carried at cost less depreciation and – where necessary – write-downs for impairment. Investment grants are generally deducted from cost. Cost is determined on the basis of the direct and indirect costs that are directly attributable. Special operational equipment is reported under other equipment, operating and office equipment. Property, plant and equipment is depreciated using the straight-line method over its estimated useful life. The useful lives of items of property, plant and equipment are reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted if required.

Depreciation is based mainly on the following useful lives:



Useful life






20 to 50 years

Site improvements


10 to 20 years

Technical equipment and machinery


6 to 12 years

Other equipment, operating and office equipment, including special tools


3 to 15 years

Impairment losses on property, plant and equipment are recognized in accordance with IAS 36 where the recoverable amount of the asset concerned has fallen below the carrying amount. Recoverable amount is the higher of value in use and fair value less costs to sell. Value in use is determined using the principles described for intangible assets. The discount rates for product-specific tools and other investments are the same as the discount rates for capitalized development costs given above for each segment. If the reasons for impairments recognized in previous years no longer apply, the impairment losses are reversed up to a maximum of the amount that would have been determined if no impairment loss had been recognized (see also disclosures on adjustments to cash-generating units in the “Key Events” section).

In accordance with the principle of substance over form, assets that have been formally transferred to third parties under a sale and leaseback transaction including a repurchase option also continue to be accounted for as separate assets.


Until December 31, 2018, the Volkswagen Group accounted for leases in accordance with IAS 17. A lease was defined as a contract under which the lessor transfers to the lessee the right to use an asset for an agreed period of time in return for a series of payments. The accounting treatment of the lease at the lessee and lessor depended on the distribution of the risks and rewards associated with the leased asset.

If the material risks and rewards were attributable to the Volkswagen Group as lessee, the leased assets concerned were recognized at fair value or at the present value of the minimum lease payments (if lower) and depreciated using the straight-line method over the asset’s useful life, or over the term of the lease if this was shorter. The payment obligations arising from the future lease payments were discounted and recorded as a liability in the balance sheet.

Where the Volkswagen Group was the lessee of operating lease assets, i.e. if not all material risks and rewards were transferred, lease and rental payments were recorded directly as expenses in profit or loss.

Since January 1, 2019, the Volkswagen Group has accounted for leases in accordance with IFRS 16, which defines a lease as a contract or part of a contract in which a lessor transfers to a lessee the right to use an asset for an agreed period of time in exchange for consideration.


If the Volkswagen Group is the lessee, it generally recognizes in its balance sheet a right-of-use asset and a lease liability for all leases. In the Volkswagen Group the lease liability is measured on the basis of the present value of outstanding lease payments, while the right-of-use asset is always measured at the amount of the lease liability plus any initial direct costs.

During the lease term, the right-of-use asset is always depreciated on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease. The lease liability is adjusted using the effective interest method and taking the lease payments into account.

The right-of-use assets are reported in the balance sheet under those items in which the assets underlying the lease would have been recognized if the Volkswagen Group had been their beneficial owner. For this reason, the right-of-use assets are presented under noncurrent assets, mostly in property, plant and equipment, as of the balance sheet date and included in impairment tests of property, plant and equipment conducted in accordance with IAS 36.

There are practical expedients for short-term and low-value leases; the Volkswagen Group makes use of this option and therefore does not recognize right-of-use assets or liabilities for these types of leases. In this respect, the lease payments will continue to be recognized in the income statement. Leases are accounted for as of low value if the value of the leased asset as new is no higher than €5,000. Furthermore, the accounting rules of IFRS 16 are not applied to leases of intangible assets.

A large number of leases contain extension and termination options. The determination of the lease terms considers all relevant facts and circumstances that create an economic incentive to exercise or not to exercise the option. Optional periods are taken into account in determining the lease term, if it is reasonably certain that the option will or will not be exercised.


The accounting treatment of leases of lease assets is based on the classification into operating leases and finance leases. The classification is made on the basis of the distribution of risks and rewards incidental to ownership of the lease asset.

If the lease is an operating lease, the Volkswagen Group is exposed to the material risks and rewards. The lease asset is recognized at amortized cost in the Volkswagen Group’s noncurrent assets and the lease installments collected in the period are recognized as income in the income statement.

Vehicles leased out under operating leases are recognized at cost and depreciated to their estimated residual value using the straight-line method over the term of the lease. Impairment losses identified as a result of an impairment test in accordance with IAS 36 are recognized. The forecast residual values are adjusted to include constantly updated internal and external information on residual values, depending on specific local factors and the experiences gained in the marketing of used cars. This requires management to make assumptions in particular about vehicle supply and demand in the future, as well as about vehicle price trends. Such assumptions are based either on qualified estimates or on data published by external experts. Qualified estimates are based on external data – if available – that reflects additional information that is available internally, such as historical experience and current sales data.

Under a finance lease, the material risks and rewards are transferred to the lessee. The lease asset is derecognized from the Volkswagen Group’s noncurrent assets, and instead a receivable is recognized in the amount of the net investment in the lease.


Real estate and buildings held in order to obtain rental income (investment property) are carried at amortized cost; the useful lives applied to depreciation generally correspond to those of the property, plant and equipment used by the Company itself. The fair value of investment property must be disclosed in the notes if it is carried at amortized cost. Fair value is generally estimated using an investment method based on internal calculations. This involves determining the income value for a specific building on the basis of gross income, taking into account additional factors such as land value, remaining useful life and a multiplier specific to property.


Borrowing costs of qualifying assets are capitalized as part of the cost of these assets. A qualifying asset is an asset that necessarily takes at least a year to get ready for its intended use or sale.


The cost of equity-accounted investments is adjusted to reflect the share of increases or reductions in equity at the associates and joint ventures after the acquisition that is attributable to the Volkswagen Group, as well as any effects from purchase price allocation. Additionally, the investment is tested for impairment if there are indications of impairment and written down to the lower recoverable amount if necessary. The recoverable amount is determined using the principles described for indefinite-lived intangible assets. If the reason for impairment ceases to apply at a later date, the impairment loss is reversed to the carrying amount that would have been determined had no impairment loss been recognized.


Financial instruments are contracts that give rise to a financial asset of one company and a financial liability or an equity instrument of another. Regular way purchases or sales of financial instruments are accounted for at the settlement date – that is, at the date on which the asset is delivered.

Financial assets are classified and measured on the basis of the entity’s business model and the characteristics of the financial asset’s cash flows.

IFRS 9 classifies financial assets into the following categories:

  • financial assets at fair value through profit or loss;
  • financial assets at fair value through other comprehensive income (debt instruments);
  • financial assets at fair value through other comprehensive income (equity instruments); and
  • financial assets at amortized cost.

Financial liabilities are classified into the following categories:

  • financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss; and
  • financial liabilities measured at amortized cost.

In the Volkswagen Group, the categories presented above are allocated to the “at amortized cost” and “at fair value” classes.


Financial assets measured at amortized cost are held under a business model that is aimed at collecting contractual cash flows (“hold” business model). The cash flows of these assets relate solely to payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding. The amortized cost of a financial asset or liability is the amount:

  • at which a financial asset or liability is measured at initial recognition;
  • minus any principal repayments;
  • taking account of any loss allowances, write-downs for impairment and uncollectibility relating to financial assets; and
  • plus or minus the cumulative amortization of any difference between the original amount and the amount repayable at maturity (premium, discount), amortized using the effective interest method over the term of the financial asset or liability.

Financial liabilities measured at amortized cost using the effective interest method relate to liabilities to banks, bonds, commercial paper and notes, loans and other liabilities. Gains or losses resulting from changes in amortized cost, including the effects of changes in exchange rates, are recognized through profit or loss. For reasons of materiality, discounting or unwinding of discounting is not applied to current liabilities (due within one year).

Financial assets and liabilities measured at amortized cost are

  • receivables from financing business;
  • trade receivables and payables;
  • other receivables and financial assets and liabilities;
  • financial liabilities; and
  • cash, cash equivalents and time deposits.


Changes in the carrying amount of financial assets measured at fair value are recognized either through OCI or through profit or loss.

The fair value through OCI (debt instruments) category comprises exclusively debt instruments. Changes in fair value are always recognized directly in equity, net of deferred taxes. Certain changes in the fair value of these debt instruments (impairment losses, foreign exchange gains and losses, interest calculated using the effective interest method) are recognized immediately in profit or loss.

Financial assets measured at fair value through other comprehensive income (debt instruments) are held under a business model aimed at both collecting contractual cash flows and selling financial assets (“hold and sell” business model).

Financial assets that are equity instruments are also measured at fair value. Here Volkswagen exercises the option to recognize changes in fair value always through other comprehensive income, i.e. gains and losses from the measurement of equity investments are never recycled to the income statement and instead reclassified to revenue reserves on disposal (no reclassification).

Any financial assets not measured at either amortized cost or through other comprehensive income are allocated to the fair value through profit or loss category. Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss are aimed in particular at generating cash flows by selling financial instruments (“sell” business model).

At Volkswagen, this category primarily comprises

  • hedging relationships to which hedge accounting is not applied and
  • investment fund units.

All financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss relate to derivatives to which hedge accounting is not applied.

Fair value generally corresponds to the market or quoted market price. If no active market exists, fair value is determined using other observable inputs as far as possible. If no observable inputs are available, fair value is determined using valuation techniques, such as by discounting the future cash flows at the market interest rate, or by using recognized option pricing models, and, as far as possible, verified by confirmations from the banks that handle the transactions.

In the case of current financial receivables and liabilities, amortized cost generally corresponds to the principal or repayment amount.

The fair value option for financial assets and financial liabilities is not used in the Volkswagen Group.

Financial assets and financial liabilities are generally presented at their gross amounts and only offset if the Volkswagen Group currently has a legally enforceable right to set off the amounts and intends to settle on a net basis.

Subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures that are not consolidated for reasons of materiality do not fall within the scope of IFRS 9 and IFRS 7.


Volkswagen Group companies use derivatives to hedge balance sheet items and future cash flows (hedged items). Appropriate derivatives such as swaps, forward transactions and options are used as hedging instruments. The criteria for the application of hedge accounting are that the hedging relationship between the hedged item and the hedging instrument is clearly documented and that the hedge is highly effective.

The accounting treatment of changes in the fair value of hedging instruments depends on the nature of the hedging relationship. In the case of hedges against the risk of change in the fair value of balance sheet items (fair value hedges), both the hedging instrument and the hedged risk portion of the hedged item are measured at fair value. Several risk portions of hedged items are grouped into a portfolio if appropriate. In the case of a fair value portfolio hedge, the changes in fair value are accounted for in the same way as for a fair value hedge of an individual underlying. Gains or losses from the measurement of hedging instruments and hedged items are recognized in profit or loss. In the Volkswagen Group, IAS 39 is applied alongside IFRS 9 to account for portfolio hedges of interest rate risk in the Financial Services Division.

In the case of hedges of future cash flows (cash flow hedges), the hedging instruments are also measured at fair value. The designated effective portion of the hedging instrument is accounted for through OCI I and the non-designated portion through OCI II. They are only recognized in the income statement when the hedged item is recognized in profit or loss. The ineffective portion of cash flow hedges is recognized through profit or loss immediately.

Derivatives used by the Volkswagen Group for financial management purposes to hedge against interest rate, foreign currency, commodity price, equity price, or fund price risks, but that do not meet the strict hedge accounting criteria of IFRS 9, are classified as financial assets or liabilities at fair value through profit or loss (referred to below as derivatives to which hedge accounting is not applied). This also applies to options on shares.

External hedging instruments of intragroup hedged items that are subsequently eliminated in the consolidated financial statements are also assigned to this category as a general rule. Assets and liabilities measured at fair value through profit or loss consist of derivatives or components of derivatives that are not included in hedge accounting. These relate for example to the non-designated currency forwards used to hedge sales revenue, interest rate hedges, commodity futures and currency forwards relating to commodity futures.


Where a Group company is the lessor – generally of vehicles – a receivable in the amount of the net investment in the lease is recognized in the case of finance leases, in other words where substantially all the risks and rewards are transferred to the lessee.


Financial assets are exposed to default risk, which is taken into account by recognizing loss allowances or, if losses have already been incurred, by recognizing impairment losses. Default risk on loans and receivables in the financial services segment is accounted for by recognizing specific loss allowances and portfolio-based loss allowances.

In particular, a loss allowance is recognized on these financial assets in the amount of the expected loss in accordance with Group-wide standards. The actual specific loss allowances for the losses incurred are then charged to this loss allowance. A potential impairment is assumed not only for a number of situations such as delayed payment over a certain period, the institution of enforcement measures, the threat of insolvency or overindebtedness, application for or the opening of bankruptcy proceedings, or the failure of reorganization measures, but also for receivables that are not past due.

Portfolio-based loss allowances are recognized by grouping together insignificant receivables and significant individual receivables for which there is no indication of impairment into homogeneous portfolios on the basis of comparable credit risk features and allocating them by risk class. Average historical default probabilities are used in combination with forward-looking parameters for the portfolio concerned to calculate the amount of the impairment loss.

Credit risks must be considered for all financial assets measured at amortized cost or fair value through profit or loss (debt instruments), as well as for contract assets in accordance with IFRS 15 and lease receivables within the scope of IFRS 16. The rules on impairment also apply to risks from irrevocable credit commitments not recognized in the balance sheet and to the measurement of financial guarantees.

As a matter of principle, a simplified process, which takes historical default rates and forward-looking information into account, and specific loss allowances are used to account for impairment losses on receivables outside the Financial Services segment.


Deferred tax assets are generally recognized for tax-deductible temporary differences between the tax base of assets and liabilities and their carrying amounts in the consolidated balance sheet, as well as on tax loss carryforwards and tax credits provided it is probable that they can be used in future periods. Deferred tax liabilities are generally recognized for all taxable temporary differences between the tax base of assets and liabilities and their carrying amounts in the consolidated balance sheet.

Deferred tax liabilities and assets are recognized in the amount of the expected tax liability or tax benefit, as appropriate, in subsequent fiscal years, based on the expected enacted tax rate at the time of realization. The tax consequences of dividend payments are generally not taken into account until the resolution on appropriation of earnings available for distribution has been adopted.

Deferred tax assets that are unlikely to be realized within a clearly predictable period are reduced by loss allowances.

Deferred tax assets for tax loss carryforwards are usually measured on the basis of future taxable income over a planning period of five fiscal years.

Deferred tax assets and deferred tax liabilities are offset where taxes are levied by the same taxation authority and relate to the same tax period.


Raw materials, consumables and supplies, merchandise, work in progress and self-produced finished goods reported in inventories are carried at the lower of cost or net realizable value. Cost is determined on the basis of the direct and indirect costs that are directly attributable. Borrowing costs are not capitalized. The measurement of same or similar inventories is generally based on the weighted average cost method.


Under IFRS 5, noncurrent assets or groups of assets and liabilities (disposal groups) are classified as held for sale if their carrying amounts will be recovered principally through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use. Such assets are carried at the lower of their carrying amount and fair value less costs to sell, and are presented separately in current assets and liabilities in the balance sheet.

Discontinued operations are components of an entity that have either been disposed of or are classified as held for sale. The assets and liabilities of operations that are held for sale represent disposal groups that must be measured and reported using the same principles as noncurrent assets held for sale. The income and expenses from discontinued operations are presented in the income statement as profit or loss from discontinued operations below the profit or loss from continuing operations. Corresponding disposal gains or losses are contained in the profit or loss from discontinued operations. The prior-year figures in the income statement are adjusted accordingly.


The actuarial valuation of pension provisions is based on the projected unit credit method stipulated by IAS 19 for defined benefit plans. The valuation is not only based on pension payments and vested entitlements known at the balance sheet date, but also reflects future salary and pension trends, as well as experience-based staff turnover rates. Remeasurements are recognized in retained earnings in other comprehensive income, net of deferred taxes.


Tax provisions contain obligations resulting from current income taxes. Deferred taxes are presented in separate items of the balance sheet and income statement. Provisions are recognized for potential tax risks on the basis of the best estimate of the liability.


The share-based payment consists of phantom shares and performance shares. The obligations arising from the share-based payment are accounted for as cash-settled plans in accordance with IFRS 2. The cash-settled share-based payments are measured at fair value until maturity. Fair value is determined using a recognized valuation technique. The compensation cost is allocated over the vesting period.


In accordance with IAS 37, provisions are recognized where a present obligation exists to third parties as a result of a past event, where a future outflow of resources is probable and where a reliable estimate of that outflow can be made.

Provisions not resulting in an outflow of resources in the year immediately following are recognized at their settlement value discounted to the balance sheet date. Discounting is based on market interest rates. An average discount rate of −0.10% (previous year: 0.20%) was used in the Eurozone. The settlement value also reflects cost increases expected at the balance sheet date.

Provisions are not offset against claims for reimbursement.

Insurance contracts that form part of the insurance business are recognized in accordance with IFRS 4. Reinsurance acceptances are accounted for without any time delay in the year in which they arise. Provisions are generally recognized based on the cedant’s contractual duties. Estimation techniques based on assumptions about future changes in claims are used to calculate the claims provision. Other technical provisions relate to the provision for cancellations.

The share of the provisions attributable to reinsurers is calculated in accordance with the contractual agreements with the retrocessionaries and reported under other assets.


If the criteria for recognizing a provision are not met, but the outflow of financial resources is not remote, such obligations are disclosed in the notes to the consolidated financial statements (see the “Contingent liabilities” section). Contingent liabilities are only recognized if the obligations are more certain, i.e. the outflow of financial resources has become probable and their amount can be reliably estimated.


Noncurrent liabilities are recorded at amortized cost in the balance sheet. Differences between historical cost and the repayment amount are amortized using the effective interest method.

Liabilities to members of partnerships from puttable shares are recognized in the income statement at the present value of the redemption amount at the balance sheet date.

Lease liabilities are carried at the present value of the lease payments.

Current liabilities are recognized at their repayment or settlement value.


Sales revenue, interest and commission income from financial services and other operating income are recognized only when the relevant service has been rendered or the goods have been delivered, i.e. when the customer has obtained control of the good or service. Where new and used vehicles and original parts are sold, the Company’s performance invariably occurs upon delivery, because that is the point when control is transferred, and the inventory risk and, for deliveries to a dealer, invariably also the pricing decision pass to the customer. Revenue is reported net of sales allowances (discounts, rebates, or customer bonuses). The Volkswagen Group measures sales allowances and other variable consideration on the basis of experience and by taking account of current circumstances. Vehicles are normally sold on payment terms. A trade receivable is recognized for the period between vehicle delivery and receipt of payment. Any financing component included in the transaction is only recognized if the period between the transfer of the goods and the payment of consideration is longer than one year and the amount to be accrued is significant.

Sales revenue from financing and finance lease agreements is recognized using the effective interest method. If non-interest-bearing or low-interest vehicle financing arrangements are agreed, sales revenue is reduced by the interest benefits granted. Sales revenue from operate leases is recognized over the term of the contract on a straight line basis.

In contracts under which the goods or services are transferred over a period of time, revenue is recognized, depending on the type of goods or services provided, either according to the stage of completion or, to simplify, on a straight-line basis; the latter is only allowed, if revenue recognition on a straight-line basis does not differ materially from recognition according to the stage of completion. As a rule, the stage of completion is determined as the proportion that contract costs incurred by the end of the reporting period bear to the estimated total contract costs (cost-to-cost method). Contract costs incurred invariably represent the best way to measure the stage of completion for the performance obligation. If the outcome of a performance obligation satisfied over time is not sufficiently certain, but the company expects, as a minimum, to recover its costs, revenue is only recognized in the amount of contract costs incurred (zero profit margin method). If the expected costs exceed the expected revenue, the expected losses are recognized immediately in full as expenses by recognizing impairment losses on the associated contract assets recognized, and additionally by recognizing provisions for any amounts in excess of the impairment losses. Since long-term construction contracts invariably give rise to contingent receivables from customers for the period to completion or payment by the customer, contract assets are recognized for the corresponding amounts. A trade receivable is recognized as soon as the Company has transferred the goods or services in full.

If a contract comprises several separately identifiable components (multiple-element arrangements), these components are recognized separately in accordance with the principles outlined above.

If services are sold to the customer at the same time as the vehicle, and the customer pays for them in advance, the Group recognizes a corresponding contract liability until the services have been transferred. Examples of services that customers pay for in advance are servicing, maintenance and certain warranty contracts as well as mobile online services. For extended warranties granted to customers for a particular model, a provision is normally recognized in the same way as for statutory warranties. If the warranty is optional for the customer or includes an additional service component, the sales revenue is deferred and recognized over the term of the warranty.

Income from the sale of assets for which a Group company has a buyback obligation is recognized only when the assets have definitively left the Group. If a fixed repurchase price was agreed when the contract was entered into, the difference between the selling price and the present value of the repurchase price is recognized as income ratably over the term of the contract. Prior to that time, the assets are carried as inventories in the case of short contract terms and as lease assets in the case of long contract terms.

Sales revenue is always determined on the basis of the price stated in the contract. If variable consideration (e.g. volume-based bonus payments) has been agreed in a contract, the large number of contracts involved means that revenue has to be estimated using the expected value method. In exceptional cases, the most probable amount method may also be used. Once the expected sales revenue has been estimated, an additional check is carried out to determine whether there is any uncertainty that necessitates the reversal of the revenue initially recognized so that it can be virtually ruled out that sales revenue subsequently has to be adjusted downward. Provisions for reimbursements arise mainly from dealer bonuses.

In multiple element arrangements, the transaction price is allocated to the different performance obligations of the contract on the basis of relative standalone selling prices. In the Automotive Division, non-vehicle-related services are invariably measured at their standalone selling prices for reasons of materiality.

Cost of sales includes the costs incurred to generate the sales revenue and the cost of goods purchased for resale. This item also includes the costs of additions to warranty provisions. Research and development costs not eligible for capitalization in the period and amortization of development costs are likewise carried under cost of sales. Reflecting the presentation of interest and commission income in sales revenue, the interest and commission expenses attributable to the financial services business are presented in cost of sales.

Dividend income is recognized on the date when the dividend is legally approved.


Government grants related to assets are deducted when arriving at the carrying amount of the asset and are recognized in profit or loss over the life of the depreciable asset as a reduced depreciation expense. If the Group becomes entitled to a grant subsequently, the amount of the grant attributable to prior periods is recognized as profit or loss.

Government grants related to income, i.e. that compensate the Group for expenses incurred, are recognized in profit or loss for the period in those items in which the expenses to be compensated by the grants are also recognized. Grants in the form of nonmonetary assets (e.g. the use of land free of charge or the transfer of resources free of charge) are disclosed as a memo item.


Preparation of the consolidated financial statements requires management to make certain estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, and income and expenses, as well as the related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities of the reporting period. The estimates and assumptions relate largely to the following matters:

The impairment testing of nonfinancial assets (especially goodwill, brand names, capitalized development costs and special operational equipment) and equity-accounted investments, or investments accounted at cost, and the measurement of options on shares in companies that are not traded in an active market require assumptions about the future cash flows during the planning period, and possibly beyond it, as well as about the discount rate to be applied. The estimates made in order to separate cash flows mainly relate to future market shares, the trend in the respective markets and the profitability of the Volkswagen Group’s products. In addition, the recoverability of the Group’s lease assets depends in particular on the residual value of the leased vehicles after expiration of the lease term, because this represents a significant portion of the expected cash flows. A change to the definition of cash-generating units in the Passenger Cars Business Area was required in the past fiscal year. More detailed information on impairment tests and the measurement parameters used for those tests can be found in the explanations on the accounting policies for intangible assets.

If there are no observable market inputs, the fair values of assets acquired and liabilities assumed in a business combination are measured using recognized valuation techniques, such as the relief-from-royalty method or the residual method.

Impairment testing of financial assets requires estimates about the extent and probability of occurrence of future events. As far as possible, estimates are derived from experience taking into account current market data as well as rating categories and scoring information. The section entitled “IFRS 7 (Financial Instruments)” contains further details on how to determine loss allowances.

Accounting for provisions is also based on estimates of the extent and probability of occurrence of future events, as well as estimates of the discount rate. As far as possible, these are also based on experience or external opinions. The assumptions applied in the measurement of pension provisions are described in the “Provisions for pensions and other post-employment benefits” section. Remeasurements are recognized in other comprehensive income and do not affect profit or loss reported in the income statement. Any change in the estimates of the amount of other provisions is always recognized in profit or loss. The provisions are regularly adjusted to reflect new information obtained. The use of expected values means that additional amounts must frequently be recognized for provisions, or that unused provisions are reversed. Similarly to expenses for the recognition of provisions, income from the reversal of provisions is allocated to the respective functions. Warranty claims from sales transactions are calculated on the basis of losses to date, estimated future losses and the policy on ex gratia arrangements. In addition, assumptions must be made about the nature and extent of future warranty and ex gratia claims.

For the provisions recognized in connection with the diesel issue, assumptions were made in particular about working hours, material costs and hourly wage rates, depending on the series, model year and country concerned. In addition, assumptions are made about future resale prices of repurchased vehicles. These assumptions are based on qualified estimates, which are based in turn on external data, and also reflect additional information available internally, such as values derived from experience. Further information on the legal proceedings and on the legal risks associated with the diesel issue can be found in the “Litigation” section.

Tax provisions were recognized for potential future tax back payments, while other provisions were recognized for ancillary tax payments arising in this connection.

Volkswagen AG and its subsidiaries have operations worldwide and are audited by local tax authorities on an ongoing basis. Amendments to tax laws and changes in legal precedent and their interpretation by the tax authorities in the respective countries may lead to tax payments that differ from the estimates made in the financial statements.

The measurement of the tax provision is based on the most likely exposure resulting from this risk materializing. Volkswagen decides whether to account for multiple tax uncertainties separately or in groups on the merits of each individual case considered, depending on which type of presentation is better suited to predicting the extent to which the tax risk will materialize. The pricing of individual products and services is complex, especially in relation to contracts for the cross-border supply of intragroup goods and services, because it is in many cases not possible to observe market prices for internally generated products, or the use of market prices for similar products is subject to uncertainty because they are not comparable. In these cases, prices – including for tax purposes – are determined on the basis of standardized, generally accepted valuation techniques.

If actual developments differ from the assumptions made for recognizing the provisions, the figures actually recorded may differ from the estimates expected originally.

An overview of other provisions can be found in the “Noncurrent and current other provisions” section.

Government grants are recognized based on an assessment as to whether there is reasonable assurance that the Group companies will fulfill the attached conditions and the grants will be awarded. This assessment is based on the nature of the legal entitlement and past experience.

Estimates of the useful life of finite-lived assets are based on experience and are reviewed regularly. Where estimates are modified the residual useful life is adjusted and an impairment loss is recognized, if necessary.

Estimates of lease terms under IFRS 16 are based on the non-cancelable period of a lease and an assessment of whether existing extension and termination options will be exercised. The determination of the lease term and the discount rates used impacts on the amounts to be recognized for right-of-use assets and lease liabilities.

Measuring deferred tax assets requires assumptions regarding future taxable income and the timing of the realization of deferred tax assets.

The estimates and assumptions are based on underlying assumptions that reflect the current state of available knowledge. Specifically, the expected future development of business was based on the circumstances known at the date of preparation of these consolidated financial statements and a realistic assessment of the future development of the global and sector-specific environment. Our estimates and assumptions remain subject to a high degree of uncertainty because future business developments are subject to uncertainties that in part cannot be influenced by the Group. This applies in particular to short- and medium-term cash flow forecasts and to the discount rates used.

Developments in this environment that differ from the assumptions and that cannot be influenced by management could result in amounts that differ from the original estimates. If actual developments differ from the expected developments, the underlying assumptions and, if necessary, the carrying amounts of the assets and liabilities affected are adjusted.

Global gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.6% (previous year: 3.2%) in 2019. Our forecasts are based on the assumption that global economic growth will slow down somewhat in 2020. As a result, from today's perspective, we are not expecting material adjustments in the following fiscal year in the carrying amounts of the assets and liabilities reported in the consolidated balance sheet.

Estimates and assumptions by management were based in particular on assumptions relating to the development of the general economic environment, the automotive markets and the legal environment. These and further assumptions are explained in detail in the Report on Expected Developments, which is part of the Group Management Report.