The brands within the TRATON GROUP have already undertaken many initiatives to become more sustainable. As Head of Sustainability, Helga Würtele is also helping to drive the issue forward at holding company level. Working from Södertälje, the Munich native coordinates an exchange of knowledge and thus inspires new strategic approaches and creative ideas.

Text: Laurin Paschek

Ms. Würtele, how important is sustainability to you personally?

Helga Würtele: I have a deep love of nature and enjoy spending time outdoors, whether it’s skiing, mountain biking, or canoeing. The way I see it, we as humans should have a sustainable relationship with nature, and so we should treat it with as much respect as possible.

Does that apply in a similar way to companies? How would you describe the TRATON GROUP’s overarching strategy in terms of sustainability?

At TRATON, we strongly believe that sustainability and responsible conduct in line with ethical standards must be the foundations of our business activities. To give this objective a more concrete form, we have committed ourselves to the Sustainable Development Goals — the SDGs — of the United Nations. And we’re not only concerned with environmental and climate targets, we also want to assume responsibility for people themselves — that is, for our employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and society as a whole.
“We also want to assume responsibility for people themselves — that is, for our employees, customers, suppliers, partners, society as a whole.”
Helga Würtele

Why do you want to found the Company’s business activities on sustainability?

There are very solid reasons for this. Both our customers and the capital markets now look very closely at the conditions under which a product was manufactured or a business model developed before making a purchase or investment decision. We want to attract investors to our Company, and to do this we need to be transparent about ESG aspects — where E stands for Environmental, S for Social, and G for Governance. ESG ratings are a helpful compass to see where we stand as a company and where we can do better. What’s more, meaningful business conduct also increases the TRATON GROUP’s attractiveness as an employer. The younger generation, in particular prefers, companies that demonstrate social commitment.

Is that why the Group has joined the UN Global Compact for sustainable and responsible corporate governance?

That’s right. Our Scania and MAN brands have already been active in this initiative for many years. But now the entire Group has joined and committed itself to the initiative’s ten principles, which address issues such as human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. We hope that the large network of more than 12,000 companies from 160 countries will provide us with new momentum and best practices.
Steuer eines Transporters.
Anderson Soares.

The photographs of Helga Würtele were taken at Scania’s visitor center in Södertälje, Sweden. There, visitors can find out about the changes taking place in the transportation industry.

“Both our customers and the capital markets now look very closely at the conditions under which a product was manufactured.”
Helga Würtele

What is the relationship between the individual brands and the TRATON GROUP as a whole?

The Scania, MAN, Volkswagen Caminh es e  nibus, and Navistar brands have been committed to sustainability for many years. One sign of this is that all brands have already developed fully electric commercial vehicles that are suitable for everyday use. Each brand first defines its measures, methods, and priorities individually and independently of the others. The TRATON GROUP is the overarching umbrella under which the brands then exchange information. This transfer of knowledge will help us drive forth the transformation of the transportation industry even more quickly and develop future-proof components, systems, and products together.

How do the customers of the TRATON GROUP benefit from this?

A key criterion when deciding which commercial vehicle to buy is the total cost of ownership (TCO). This includes not only the acquisition costs, but also labor costs for the driver, expenses for repairs and maintenance, and fuel costs, of course. We believe that, in the medium term, fully electrified fleets will prove more favorable in terms of TCO than their conventional, diesel-powered counterparts. However, certain prerequisites must be in place for this to happen — first and foremost, a fully functional and broad-based charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles. This point in particular shows that, in addition to the decentralized expertise of our brands, we need an overarching exchange of knowledge and a common approach as a Group, also vis- -vis policymakers and society.
companies from 160 countries are part of the network of the UN Global Compact, an initiative that the TRATON GROUP has now also joined.

Which key issues have you identified for the Group so far that transcend the individual brands?

One particularly important topic is cutting CO2 emissions to the point of climate neutrality by the middle of this century. This poses a major challenge for the TRATON GROUP and for the transportation industry as a whole. Our brands have made varying degrees of progress in the individual areas of application related to corporate greenhouse gas emissions. However, this is not a disadvantage, because it means that we can learn particularly well from each other in our cross-brand dialogue. Other priorities include developing a circular economy and further promoting pluralism and inclusion. In terms of organization, we put forward and discuss these topics on the TRATON Sustainability Board and in many working groups, both face-to-face and digitally.

What are the advantages for the individual brands of working together across the Group to achieve greater sustainability?

Through our transfer of knowledge, each brand can draw on the experience and expertise of the Group and the other brands. A good example of this is the introduction of science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Scania was the first brand in the Group to join this initiative. MAN is now following suit and can benefit from exchanges with the employees of its sister brand. Another example is the materiality analysis we conducted in 2021 to find out what influence we as a Group have on the United Nations SDGs and how we — and therefore our brands — can become more sustainable and responsible. On this basis, we then defined key issues that cut across all our brands and derived joint strategies and measures. And we are determined to continue working toward this goal in 2022.

Helga Würtele

Head of Sustainability TRATON GROUP

Helga Würtele joined the TRATON GROUP — then still known as Volkswagen Truck & Bus — in 2015 and has focused on the area of sustainability since May 2021.

The business economist worked for MAN SE from 2008, where she held positions in Investor Relations, Controlling, and Corporate Finance. Prior to that, she spent ten years working for various banks in the areas of equity and debt capital markets.

On January 1, 2023, Helga Würtele returned to Munich and in her new position as Senior Manager ESG reports directly to Annette Danielski, Member of the Executive Board of TRATON SE, responsible for Finance and Business Development.

More about Helga Würtele