Thursday 21 September 2017

Volkswagen turns to Tesla for inspiration


Glass delivery towers at the VW factory in Wolfsburg Photo: Bloomberg
Glass delivery towers at the VW factory in Wolfsburg Photo: Bloomberg

Edward Taylor

Volkswagen, the world's largest carmaker by sales, is looking to loss-making startup Tesla for inspiration on how to improve its core business, the brand's chief executive Herbert Diess said in an interview published on the VW website.

Asked who VW's main competitors are, Diess told an internal company publication: "In the old world it is Toyota, Hyundai and the French carmakers. In the new world it is Tesla."

Tesla, headed by Elon Musk, has shaken up the auto industry with its ambition to build a mass market for electric cars, posing a competitive threat to established carmakers who remain reliant on producing cars with combustion engines.

Diess said the Volkswagen brand, which sold 5,987,800 cars last year, is seeking to catch up with and overtake smaller California-based Tesla, which sold 83,922 cars last year. "Tesla belongs among the competitors which have abilities that we currently do not have," Diess said in the interview with "Inside", a publication for VW employees.

He also pointed out that around half of Tesla's engineers are software experts, while at VW's core brand it is a much lower proportion.

Diess, who himself drives an electric VW Golf, added: "Tesla has good electric motors, a fast charging network, autonomous driving technology, internet connectivity and a new approach toward vehicle distribution.

"This shows that we need to significantly improve. We can do this. We measure ourselves against Tesla quite deliberately. "Our goal is using our abilities not just to catch up, but even to overtake."


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