Tesla was originally a David and Goliath story, with the fledgling electric vehicle maker facing the seemingly overwhelming gasoline-powered auto industry. Now that Elon Musk’s company is the world’s most valuable automaker, by market capitalization, and other brands are considering a transition to zero-emission vehicles, the tables have been turned. Today everyone is trying to build a “Tesla Killer”.
At least that kind of adversarial competition has been the hallmark of EV racing so far. But a big automotive hat offers an alternative.
On October 14, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess spoke to 200 executives at his company in Alpbach, Austria, in an attempt to reinvigorate their commitment to electrification, as reported by Reuters. To help his cause, Diess brought in a special motivational speaker via video call: VW competitor Elon Musk.
On Saturday, Diess published an article on the event on twitter, acknowledging Musk’s presence and adding “we will be visiting you soon at Grünheide”, a reference to the German Tesla factory which is nearing completion.
So why did Diess invite Musk in the first place? Volkswagen is taking the transition to electric vehicles very seriously, so it would appear that Tesla is a main rival, especially as the company is encroaching on VW’s home country.
As Reuters writes, an article on Diess’ LinkedIn page explains that “he brought in Musk as a ‘surprise guest’ to make it clear that VW needs faster decisions and less bureaucracy for what it is. ‘he called the biggest transformation in VW history.
This isn’t the first time Diess and Musk have shown what friendly competition looks like in the electric vehicle space. All the way back in 2019, Musk tweeted his support for Diess, writing that “[he] is doing more than any major automaker to go electric. In 2020, Diess met Musk privately to, at least in part, get your opinion on the VW ID.3. Then, when Diess first joined Twitter in January, his first post was a hit against the Tesla boss, which felt like a loving nudge from the the gauntlet projections that we normally see. After last week’s event, it looks like we have some solid automotive bromance in our hands.
Part of this unlikely friendship comes from the fact that Diess and Musk have similar visions for the future of the auto industry; on the one hand, both are pro-electrification and anti-hydrogen fuel cells. With that in mind, it could be seen as just a case of a rising tide lifting all boats up, but it’s more than that.
It has become very clear that the transportation sector has huge challenges ahead: from building zero-emission vehicles and determining electric vehicle charging to making more efficient and environmentally friendly batteries. environment. If the CEOs who are leading these developments are on good terms, even though they are technically still in competition, we will resolve these issues much faster than if they are weighed down by enmity.
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