Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess on the race to electrical, the chip scarcity and Elon Musk

Demand for electric cars has grown slowly. But the tsunami is coming

2021-09-06 16:37:16

Diess spoke to CNN Enterprise from the Worldwide Motor Present in Munich, the place Volkswagen (VLKAF) unveiled the ID. LIFE idea automotive, sketching out a imaginative and prescient for a completely electrical small household automotive that can value roughly €20,000 ($23,720).

Diess: In Europe we’re already main. Even within the US we now have been in second place for the final months, and in China we’re rising quick. We expect we’ll turn out to be the market chief for EVs … We do not wish to pull again, for example, from Latin America, the place electrical automobiles will most likely not be the answer for local weather change. In Latin America, the pure method ahead is to make use of biofuels that are CO2 impartial, which continues to be combustion engine. That’s the reason we do not say we’ll end manufacturing of [internal combustion engine] automobiles so quickly as a result of we’ll want them in some components of the world. Electrification isn’t the answer in each place.

Let’s speak in regards to the semiconductor provide crunch. As a result of clearly, that is been an enormous drawback for thus many carmakers, your self included. Do you assume it should worsen earlier than it will get higher? And do you assume you will have to scale back manufacturing or shut vegetation?

Diess: It has gotten worse already. We anticipated that we might have reduction after the summer time break, which did not occur as a result of in Malaysia, we had actually fairly vital issues with Covid. A few of our suppliers, the again ends of our suppliers are principally based mostly in Malaysia, and three vegetation had been hit exhausting. We expect that we are going to overcome this case in direction of the top of the month, after which we should always see reduction. Semiconductors shall be on brief provide most likely for a number of months.

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Now let’s discuss autonomous know-how. As a result of I do know that whereas we’re all transitioning in direction of electrical that is one thing you are actually enthusiastic about. How will the adoption of autonomous know-how go?

Diess: We see a a lot larger transition for the business when automobiles have gotten autonomous, as a result of automobiles shall be used in another way, utilized by extra folks. You possibly can you’ll be able to ship your youngsters or your grandparents in a automotive someplace. Now think about!

There’s a variety of of enterprise potential and it is nonetheless a protracted strategy to go. Our first fleets most likely will come to market in 2025, and the primary non-public automobiles driving autonomously additionally in 2025 or 2026. However it’s now time to speculate, and to organize. And that is what we’re doing.

Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess poses above the company grounds during a photo shoot.

One of many large investments you have made not too long ago is rental firm Europcar. Is that this to assist with autonomous driving, and the concept that a number of folks will share automobiles sooner or later?

Diess: Yeah, sharing is essential. Autonomous is a distinct recreation as a result of we expect that robotaxis will play a serious function, but additionally non-public automobiles are going to be shared … we expect there’s a variety of potential for development.

The very best start line for such a mobility platform is unquestionably the rental automotive firms. They’re worthwhile already at present. And for those who add to rental, sharing, brief time period leases, even the fleets of our loaner automobiles from our retail group, you’ll be able to think about an enormous mobility platform.

Volkswagen is in fact very aggressive with Tesla. There have additionally been many parallels drawn between your self and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, not least given your very lively social media presence. Have you ever taken a leaf out of his playbook?

Diess: [Laughs] No, know I do not see any parallels. I extremely regard what he is doing. I feel he is a superb man. And he actually makes a distinction. He is altering the world along with his ventures.

I actually like that he’s considering very lengthy into the long run. He is considering far. And he is good man. However we’re fairly completely different. He’s very targeted on Tesla, on his story. I am operating an enormous conventional firm, which we attempt to put together for the long run. And I feel we additionally require completely different characters. I like him quite a bit, however I feel we’re fairly completely different.

Is it true he was as soon as tried to rent you as Tesla CEO?

Diess: I do not know. I do not know [laughs].

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

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