Volkswagen CEO Admits Tesla Has Abilities It Lacks



Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess at the I.D. concept premiere in Paris.

It seems Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess isn’t quite sure what to say about Tesla.

About a month ago, we shared that Diess (whose personal car is a VW eGolf) believes Volkswagen can stop Tesla. His reasoning behind the statement was simply VW has abilities that Tesla doesn’t possess. Of course, this type of statement sends some into a frenzy, but honestly, Volkswagen’s scale speaks for itself. Volkswagen Group sells more cars globally than any other automaker. The company’s manufacturing capability in a mere two days matches Tesla’s yearly output.

Volkswagen competitor

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

This is not to say that Volkswagen isn’t aware of competitors, and when it comes to the EV market, a different picture can be painted. According to Reuters, Diess was questioned about who he sees as VW’s primary competitors, he shared in an internal publication:

“In the old world it is Toyota, Hyundai, and the French carmakers. In the new world it is Tesla.”

The above statement comes as no surprise. However, Diess took his words a step further:

“Tesla belongs among the competitors which has abilities that we currently do not have.”

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

Diess’ recent share can be seen as a striking contradiction to his prior statement mentioned above. However, it can also be understood that both automakers have abilities that the other does not. VW, of course, with its enormity and experience, but Tesla with its cutting edge technology, substantial head start, and domination in the EV segment.

To put it all into perspective, Volkswagen sold 5,987,800 cars last year, and Tesla sold 83,922. Both companies face adversity and reputation issues, but for very different reasons. VW is still on the rebound from the infamous “Dieselgate” scandal. Tesla is up against traditional dealerships trying to stop its direct sales methods, unions hoping to step in an organize its factory, and the simple fact that it’s still viewed as a niche market startup without the ability to make money in a not-yet-popular segment.

Additionally, Tesla’s engineers are primarily software experts, whereas VW is still entrenched in the old. VW aims to change that, however, and while it’s going to be a while, the automaker claims to be well ahead of most others. It premiered its all-new I.D. family of electric vehicles at various auto shows over the last year, and just announced that its all-electric compact car could be as much as $8,000 cheaper than the Tesla Model 3.

Source: Reuters

Categories: Volkswagen

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73 Comments on "Volkswagen CEO Admits Tesla Has Abilities It Lacks"

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“Additionally, Tesla’s engineers are primarily software experts, whereas VW is still entrenched in the old.”
Apparently VW has at least one person who can write some software. 🙂 (oh no he didn’t!)

LOL. I can’t believe you went there. Doh! 🙂


Indeed. Clever software.

VW and all others are, & will Be ZER0 competition To Tesla for a long long time to come & They all know that as a matter of Fact .,They’re all stuck in the 0ld fossil Fuel “CLUNKER TECHNOLOGY”
They refuse to Bury that Dead Horse , put it to eternal rest, It’s time is past due to let go of it..

VW are already selling more EVs then Tesla in Norway for examples. There is no waiting line, they can produce all the cars the customers want. We all know that in real life, ICE engines will be with us for many years. They may be paired with a battery and an electric motor – but still.. In Norway it is expected that it will not be allowed to sell an ICE vehicle after 2025. I guess there will be exeptions, as EVs can not handle everything. Also… there are places where EVs are not well suited. I’ve been stuck in a mountaing pass in winter – that could have been way more serious if I drove an EV then, and not a diesel with a huge tank, and a few jerry cans in the trunk. There are huge changes being done, regarding the green shift in Europe. They are changing the foundations of major infrastructures. Costing billions. Rules and regulations have to be changed. Consequences have to be calculated. New jobs will be made, others will be lost. Workers have to be reeducated. Who’s going to pay for this, and who has the responsibility to do it. Major companies that… Read more »

“VW are already selling more EVs then Tesla in Norway for examples.”

That could have been said by Bagdad Bob 😉

Volkswagen should enjoy the calm before the storm and maybe even start resting on their laurels a bit more. As if Model 3 never happened.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

ROTFLMAO……… killin me dawg!!!!

I was like sloth, but deduced my way to a good laugh.

even then, i don’t think the guy who wrote the software works for VW, i thought it was from BOSCH?

Yeah, it was, but it’s the thought that counts as far as the joke goes.


I am gobsmacked at Kdawg’s awesome, godlike ability to deliver sarcasm.

Here I thought I was pretty good at that, but he’s just shown me to be a rank amateur!

😆 😆 😆

“Apparently VW has at least one person who can write some software”


No, that person no longer works there. =)

Its the same software engineer who made diesel gate a reality.So stop f***ng glorify IT people.And designing a IC engine is one of most difficult and complicated task in the world so I see no reason why VW can catch upbto Tesla.If Tesla really had balls try competing in Formula E inthe coming years,I am sure Porsche and Audi will humiliate Tesla.

“Tesla’s engineers are primarily software experts, whereas VW is still entrenched in the old.”

Modern ICEs are marvels of engineering. The stuff they do to make it efficient and emit so few bad-stuff (relative to simple 4 stroke theory) are just incredibly complex. To manage this, they would need tons of expertise just for the engine.

While modern EV is complex, they don’t compare to all the crap that ICE must possess. EV can focus more on what makes car better, not just to meet emissions, hence lots of software. All (or most) of that statistical mechanics stuff goes away with EV.

Right on!

It isn’t clear to me how the current and past statements are at odds. VAG has abilities Tesla doesn’t, and if they play to their strengths they can do great things.

Tesla has abilities VAG doesn’t, and if you head a part of the VAG you should see what the competition does better than you and move to address the problem. These are not contradictory statements.

Thanks, Captain Obvious!

What VW has and not Tesla is money and a profitable company. VW can if they play their cards well make a much more attractive EV but it requires a long term commitment. The I.D. is a good start, let’s hope they do the right thing going forward.

See the paradox: “make money” and “attractive EV”.

Maybe VW needs to reshuffle, and play “Lower Profit Better Product”, instead?

That is the problem with established companies, they expect a profit every quarter and preferably a bigger profit every time. Suggesting that VW should halve their profit for the next 5 years in order to build a solid foundation for manufacturing EVs will probably not go down well with the shareholders, but that might be the necessary thing to do for the long game.

Yup, Tesla shareholders are definitely more forward-thinking and are much more willing to stick with Tesla as they watch them build an epic company from humble beginnings in a Palo Alto office park. Audi/VW shareholders are just as likely to run away and cause a stock spiral as they are to stay.

It is an albatross around ICE car company’s necks that is allowing Tesla to greatly grow market share at their expense. They have to wait until they can make a profit to push out large volumes. Tesla can push out large volumes, and then wait to make a profit off the large volumes. (likely mid to late 2018)

Companies are there to build products that consumer want( vw) and to make profits(vw). if VW wanted to to build couple ev factories they could just do it because they have the capital and resources. They dont need junk bonds or angel investors to survive

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

No way!
VW flip floppin on a statement?…….it can’t be!

We didn’t cheat!
Nah, just kidding, my bad.

No automaker can confront Tesla, unless they come up with decent charging solution. VW should be aware that it’s not some big science in designing and building a charging tower in a spiral way. As EVs climb, they get charged wirelessly, on top they proceed ahead to another tower to go downhill and get charged as well. In-between those two towers a huge parking place could accomodate some e-cars, service center could be there etc etc. The main point is the whole process of a drivethrough charge should take no more than 5 minutes to 50% charge level. Should these towers be situated in city centers ? Well, that’s where they fit best. Once VW get their hands on the idea I assume the only thing they will struggle with is how to handle the excessive power output that is produced. Yes, that would resemble too much to a Tesla coil, but then again, you can beat Tesla only by using its own weapon. This time around it will be 100% wireless.

Yep…the Supercharger network is a HUGE competitive advantage for Tesla.

And the other automakers could easily fix the situation. Just all agree on SAE-CSS, bump it up to 150+KW, and all pitch in a few hundred million to build a strategically deployed network like the Superchargers are (along freeways to enable long-distance travel between major destinations).

But they just can’t get their act together. Ironically, it is their massive criminal failure Dieselgate that will end up helping build the network that they sorely need.

I wish people would stop calling this an advantage. GM could drop $500M and not think twice and build a network vastly larger than the SuperCharger network. But why at this point? They have one car and Volkswagen has to build a network. Cost to GM – nothing.

To me Tesla’s only real advantage is mindshare at this point and they have to milk it until it’s bone dry. In the next 3 years there could be a lot of competition coming from several directions.

It is a HUGE advantage for Tesla. The other automakers can’t just snap their fingers and create a comparable network. Why? Well: 1) SAE-CCS is currently 50KW max right now I think. Maybe the specs say it can go higher but I don’t think anyone has any chargers ready to go which charge faster. So they might need to improve the SAE standard and they need to get someone building actual ruggedized chargers that. 2) They have to decide to actually do it. They seem quite hesitant. There is a bit of reverse tragedy of the commons thing going on here. Everyone will benefit from a good charging network but no one wants to spend the money…they want someone else to build it. 3) If they actually decide to do it, it take a LONG time to do. They need to decide where to site them, they need to negotiate land leases, they need to pull local building permits, they need to cooperate with the local electric utility, and AFTER all of that they actually need to install the chargers. So there are a lot of hurdles to jump. Now they certainly can jump them but at the minimum, it… Read more »

The difference really is that Tesla is/was more or less forced to do it. In order to sell the model S there had to be a charging network but there were none so they had to solve it themselves.

For GM, they are in no hurry to sell electric vehicles. Their business doesn’t depend on it, they can afford to wait until there is a decent public network. If they had built their own network it would either be a huge gamble on a proprietary network or they would help their competitors if they use an open standard. None of those options are very attractive and they are not forced to do it.

Luckily, VW came along and cheated with diesel emissions and is now forced to build a network GM can benefit from. GM did the right thing here by not building their own network.

They could have sold it as a car not expected to do long distance travel. And initially, besides driving between LA & SF, you really couldn’t. But they went with a really brave crazy strategy and it paid off. I think it is their biggest advantage over everyone else.

A local commuter car for $100k? Yeah that would have worked well… They would have struggled to sell 10 per year

That must depend on where you live, and the adoptation of EVs. There is a charger at almost every grocery store where I live. There is a charger at almost every public building (think hospitals, schools, kindergarten, town hall, and almost every parking facility.. so to get a charge is easy. Most EV owners charge at home and work, and may top it up at a free public charger. They don’t drive enough for them to need a supercharger. And thank God for that, or else every charger would be in use all the time. I used a Zoe (the old model) for work, and used it at home to. I usully charged it at work (for free), and that was all I needed. Now with the i3, it is the same. In a few weeks the deal with a company car changes, and it will probably be cheaper for me to buy en EV for my self. Zoe, i3, e-golf, ionic or a leaf.. of a super cheap Peugeot ion.. old stuff.. but super cheap. Can charge almost anywhere I stop, so range is not that important. Will use another vehicle on the few long trips I take anyway.… Read more »

I wish people would stop claimant no that the ntrenched car manufacturers could easily just do what Tesla is doing. Tesla has nabbed 25% of the luxury sedan market in the USA over the last few years. They’re going to do the same in the mid-size segment with the Model 3.

GM keeps wanting to revitalize the Mostly Dead Cadillac marque, so if they “could” do what Tesla has done why haven’t they?

It continues to be a ridiculous argument, so it’s really you who should stop.

And yet they don’t.

Ooops! posted too early on accident.

“GM keeps wanting to revitalize the Mostly Dead Cadillac marque”

And yet they don’t. They seem more interested in their Buick brand overseas than they are in their Halo US brand. All the growth seems to be focused on Buick in China. At this point I almost expect that GM would join in some China super charger type network buildout than join in any US network, or even the 350+ kW network in the EU that is being backed by EU companies. I really don’t get it.

LMFAO flewn spoken like the serial anti-Tesla troll that you are.

All that needs to happen is to start wiring gas stations with charging terminals. The perfect opportunity for oil companies and/or private station owners to diversify and survive through the next few decades.

VW is actually at the brink of building out a US network of chargers in the 100+ kW to maybe as high as 350 kW. And there are additional other networks planned for both the US and EU in the 350 kW range. Tesla has plans to counter with their own 350+ kW chargers, but at that point will it really matter?

Tesla’s network is clearly an advantage today. But if the other companies follow through (and VW is court-ordered to follow through) with building out their chargers, and then follow through with cars that can take advantage of high charge rates, the Tesla supercharger advantage will shrink over the next 2-8 years.

“proceed ahead to another tower to go downhill and get charged as well”

Going downhill, they need to proceed to another tower to get DIScharged!

You mean like the VW fine induced DCFC chargers they are working on as part of the settlement in the US?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

No way!
VW flip floppin on a statement?…….it can’t be!

We didn’t cheat!
Nah, just kidding, my bad.

Too funny! 【ツ】

If there was ever a statement that gets me to place that reservation for the Model 3 it’s this one 🙂

Unless VW invests $billions into a battery gigafactory (now, not years in the future), there is no way they can compete with Tesla.

ICE and transmission experience is largely irrelevant to EV design. Big factories producing cars are worthless unless VW has the batteries to put into them.

Good thing they also know how to design cars. EV’s aren’t the hardest things to design. They are easier than ICE cars. It really comes down to can you do it profitably or not. If VW built two identical cars on the outside one being ICE and the other EV. If the EV had better acceleration, no noise and a flat floor but cost $5k more than the ICE version it would be a hard sell for most consumers.

“EV’s aren’t the hardest things to design. They are easier than ICE cars.”

You might think this would be true but given the results of the traditional automakers, apparently it IS hard to design a good EV. Despite many attempts, none of the traditional automakers has really designed a great EV that competes with Tesla. The LEAF & Bolt have been OK…but they didn’t have to compete with Tesla since Tesla didn’t have anything down in that price range. Now that Tesla has a $35K car only the Bolt really competes.

The difference is that traditional automakers’ cars need to make money. The story of Tesla is that you can make neat stuff if you are willing to lose a boatload of money. Pretty obvious, really.

Sorry but that is not all obvious to me. Why can’t a company lose money for a couple of years to bring out EVs? Is that a capability that only Tesla can master? If their people in control are too short-sighted to forego short-term gains for better long-term gains then they will get what they deserve.

Well…the capital markets are willing to give money to Elon Musk. Who knows if the markets are willing to give money to the existing automakers. I’d want to see them have a good EV car design before giving them lots of money. The EVs they have built so far have largely been weaksauce.

Because it’s a business, not a charity. GM is in this not because of their love for cars but because of their love of money. They are not idealists. They don’t care if they make money from ICEs or from EVs as long as it results in a good bottom line.
They are only making EVs initially because regulations required it and I think now it’s shifting to because they see that the market is slowly turning toward EVs.

Because a publicly traded company is legally obligated to have a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders and will be the subject of a class action lawsuit which they will lose if they do otherwise. It’s US law. Greed is embedded in the law.

Which seems to be contradicted by Tesla losing money and also being public but it’s a different scenario. In case one you have GM who is profitable and taking billions and pouring it down into an unknown future would be subject of lawsuits. In case two you have a company that has ALWAYS been unprofitable so the investments can always be passed off as necessary to obtain future profitability. And so it is relative. However when unprofitable startups fail (which they nearly always do) they still are almost always subject to said class action lawsuits on some made up ‘we didn’t know the risks when we bought the stock’ except there’s nothing to win because the company went broke. And if the company succeeds (such as google) then nobody sues. But starting out as a big profitable company and suddenly taking a 90 degree turn to the left and purposely eliminating profit will get you sued (and lose) every time.

Gosh, how terrible that Tesla keeps losing all that money. You’d think they would hire someone to keep track of it. /snark

No matter how many times you anti-Tesla trolls keep saying “Tesla is losing money”, we won’t ignore the fact that Tesla is re-investing all its profits in growing its production.

All of Tesla’s profits… you know, those things you Tesla haters keep saying don’t exist!

“re-investing all its profits”

There is no profit to reinvest! Why do you think they constantly have to raise more money? It’s not trolling to say they are losing money, it’s simply about reading the financial reports properly.

They do have a per-car profit margin that they can and do re-invest. But, yes, they are still investing additional fresh capital too. It is damn expensive to go from nothing to designing cars & building factories to crank out 500,000 cars a year!

No they don’t. The positive gross margin (selling price – the labor and material cost of the car) is completely eaten up by the costs of running the company. There is nothing left but a big hole when ALL bills have been paid.

Part of “running the company” includes building out their fremont factory (doubling the size), building the gigafactory, hiring people to design and test new cars, building out new assembly lines, etc.

AKA, growing the company.

So when you say Tesla doesn’t make money after all their costs “running the company”, you are unwittingly proving their point.

Whether you choose to stay unwitting or not is purely your choice.

Eron and Nokia WAS investing money they were losing back to the products look what happen to them

Changing religion don’t come easy.

“If the EV had better acceleration, no noise and a flat floor but cost $5k more than the ICE version it would be a hard sell for most consumers.”

Maybe right now but that is only because people are not yet familiar with good long range EVs. Have you driven one? You don’t want to go back.

But that doesn’t really matter….what if most people would go for the Tesla? It would just be a mess because they can’t build millions of them! They’ll be damn lucky if they get up to hundreds of thousands of them per year in the next year.

Diess sounds like the former communist leader of the GDR, Walter Ulbricht, who said something similar in comparison of the GDR with the FRG: “Overtaking, without catching up”
Well, history showed how it ended.

There really is a list of things Tesla has that VW hasn’t:

-Elon Musk; a guy with real vision and a nag to make things happen that everybody says can’t be done.
-A brand name that’s quickly getting synonymous with cutting edge electric cars
-a Gigafactory for the sort of battery production that comes with real commitment to EVs
-Supercharger charging infrastructure that’s essential for selling plug-ins.

Meanwhile poor Diess is still in the phase where he has to combat in house opposition to his EV plans….

That rear door design looks like something that Tesla should implement for the Model Y.

Agreed. 100x better than FWD

Having owned a diesel VW (before software, I’m glad to say, it wasn’t even a turbo)I think one problem they have is that it is the Electrical parts of VW’s that have problems, and this is well known. It may make people think twice about an all electric VW.

Been the victim of VW Eastern European drunken prison labor electronics myself. My Mexican built Jetta…mostly fine. German built Audi? Not so much.

“Tesla belongs among the competitors which has abilities that we currently do not have.”

Hmmm, isn’t that exactly the comment I posted to the InsideEVs article about the previous article where the VW rep claimed they have abilities Tesla does not?

It’s just stating the obvious to say that Tesla and Volkswagen, being rather different companies, have different strengths and weaknesses.

Now, VW, how about putting your money where your mouth is, for once, about putting a large number of plug-in EVs into production: Start building your own battery factories so you might actually be able to do that someday!


As they say: Money talks, bulls**t walks.

“VW, how about putting your money where your mouth is, for once, about putting a large number of plug-in EVs into production”


Mr. Musk does not dread competition, he encourages it. Much of his technology is not patented, so that it will invite others to take it and improve on it. The more this happens, the more EV technology will saturate the market. Very clever.

“In the old world it is Toyota, Hyundai, and the French carmakers. In the new world it is Tesla.”

That is where VW is a bit screwed, just like all the rest of the ICE car makers.

They STILL have to keep competing in the “old world” as they try to compete with Tesla.

They are boxing with one hand tied behind their back, because that hand is tied up fighting in another completely different boxing ring.

Only Volvo has figured out the right plan going forward. “Volvo: Every Car Launched From 2019 On Will Have Electric Motor”

Cut the old world noose holding them back, dive straight into the new world. OK, not exactly a head-first dive into the deep end, but feet-first, starting at the shallow end. But they are at least are on the right track to cutting their ties to the “old world”.

“Volkswagen CEO Admits Tesla Has Abilities It Lacks”

But when you offer to show VW, designs that EXCEED Teslas, you get a ‘pizzorf’!


You can say what you want the Tesla supercharger and destination charger network is the best reason to buy a Tesla, i never use other when i travel and every time i wanted to charge at some other charger, either was wrong connector, or i needed some specialy card for charging, when we was in france last year, i order 2 different cards, none worked when i finaly got there, it was a mess, but i can allways trust the supercharger.
For every day driving at home, almost every EV will work fine, mabey this is why the big industry like VW just create EV’s for the car number 2, no prestige just low end

Let me see VW…. Lacks integrity, morality & is beholden to unions living in the past.
Never mind its inability to deliver anything meaningful in the EV scene – Hey they can’t even get the diameter of the brake discs to match the pads – thereby needing machining or more likely as they are very soft – new discs. German engineering my Backside, when Japanese, Koreans and even Australians do better then these false money grubbing scam artists. Oh and yes Telsa is better on so many fronts and at VW they “just” admitted this. Face palm moment. Oh well at least it is good at VW admits they they still suck air threw an EU straw as they sink into the Sewer.

With private superchargers which charge 3 times faster than public D.C. Chargers, Wifi new feature updates, and 400,000 reservations of Model 3, tesla still light years ahead of the competition! Plus the safest vehicles in the world!

With private superchargers which charge 3 times faster than public D.C. Chargers, Wifi new feature updates, and 400,000 reservations of Model 3, tesla still light years ahead of the competition! Plus the safest vehicles in the world!