Volkswagen CEO Believes In Diesels And Doesn’t See Tesla As A Threat


Volkswagen ID at Frankfurt Motor Show this month (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

Volkswagen bosses are starting to develop a reputation for contradicting themselves, and one another, on a regular basis.

About two months ago, we reported that Volkswagen CEO, Herbert Diess, said that VW has abilities that Tesla doesn’t have. He claimed that Volkswagen will be the company to stop Tesla and will go on to be the leader in the electric car segment:

“We see Volkswagen as the company that can stop Tesla, because we have abilities Tesla doesn’t have today.”

Almost precisely a month later, Diess admitted that Tesla has abilities that Volkswagen lacks:


Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II

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

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

It seems the CEO of Volkswagen Group, Diess’ boss, Matthias Mueller, doesn’t quite feel the same. He doesn’t feel that Tesla poses any threat to Volkswagen, and he isn’t all about EVs. He told CNBC that he respects Tesla, but the future will prove who the real winner is. He added:

“We can’t compare apples with pears. Tesla is a company that sells less than 100,000 units and we sell 10 million. Currently, Tesla burns a 3 digit million amount and we’ve got results of 12 to 13 billion euros per year, so I think we have to be realistic here.”

Mueller still sees the diesel engine as having a positive future. He believes that it is partly automakers’ responsibility to assure that diesel isn’t banned. He told CNBC at the Frankfort Motor Show:

“The diesels we are offering today are clean. They comply with the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) requirements and they meet the requirements and needs of our customers.”

It’s not a wonder that VW (and Audi) are regularly making electrification announcements, but much of the proof is still far off. VW plans to continue making diesel vehicles and then add in electric models. Mueller says that the customer can then make the final decision. He continued:

“There’s going to be a co-existence between combustion engines and electrified drive systems over the next 10 to 20 years, so against this background we should all be patient and relaxed and leave the decision to our customers, they should decide which concept they prefer.”

Source: CNBC

Categories: Tesla, Volkswagen


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115 Comments on "Volkswagen CEO Believes In Diesels And Doesn’t See Tesla As A Threat"

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“The diesels we are offering today are clean.”

Where have I heard that before?

Difference is, that the test results are verified through road testing by independent third parties today.

They can’t be clean by definition, they just can be dirty in the legal limits.


Exactly. Diesel emits carbon-microparticles which are cancerous. They are not clean by any definition. They are a health hazard, esp. in city’s big or small.

The concentration of diesels in down town cities is why we have regulations.

Also, diesel buses should be banned.

Direct inject gasoline cars also emit micro particles. Mazda claims they improved the efficiency with HCCI, but that’s with direct inject and associated particulate emissions.

EPA Tier 3 has the particulate emissions standards tightened so the direct injection gasoline engine problem will be reduced.

And not surprisingly, Corning (the catalyic converter folks) have developed GPF (Gas Particulate Filters) –


And is expanding production facilities, that GDI engines, and GPFs, will be major players in the immediate future, while the transition to EV’s occurs…

“Diesel emits carbon-microparticles which are cancerous. They are not clean by any definition. They are a health hazard, esp. in city’s big or small.”

Thank you.

According to what I’ve read, diesel engines emit far more than gasoline engines do, of those especially tiny micro-particles coated with carcinogen-laced toxins; so tiny that they settle deep in your lungs and don’t come out.

Calling any sort of diesel motor “clean diesel” is the very worst, most hypocritical sort of greenwashing. IMHO it’s right up there with the Tobacco Institute claiming “There is no scientific evidence that smoking causes lung cancer.”

Sorry, the laws of Physics dictate that a complex hydrocarbon like diesel cannot burn cleanly in any practical and cost efficient application. Diesel is dead.

The same types of people advocating for Diesel, are the same types who advocated for lead, cigarettes, etc.

I’ll believe ICE is clean if the exhaust is vented directly into the passenger cabin.

Exactly, I always challenge global warming deniers to breathe in thier vehicle emissions in an enclosed space but there are no takers LOL

If it’s only CO2, it’s not a problem with the windows open. But all the other crap from exhaust (HC, CO, NOx, blah blah) will cause health problems even with windows open.

If you ever find yourself in an atmosphere consisting of 10% or greater CO2 concentration, it’ll ruin your day. Even if you have plenty of O2.

With the windows open, CO2 won’t reach anywhere near 10%, especially when moving.

As for “bad” with 10% CO2, they will get groggy temporarily, but nothing lasting ill health like the real poison from exhaust. Unfortunately, climate change hysteria has promoted CO2 over what really kills, and very few mention the real danger from exhaust.

Why the weird “with the windows open” caveat? That just makes things more complex for no reason. The fact remains that high CO2 is dangerous even if you have enough O2. That’s why asphyxiation is more complex than most people realize.

Additionally, global warming is real. (duh?).

Actually, I would prefer that it be vented into the VW’s CEO’s office for 2 hrs.


After 2 hours, it’ll be back to usual.

The best is to eliminate all emission rules except having the exhaust routed directly into passenger cabin. Stupid people who believe ICE cars are clean will die off while normal people will no longer buy them.

This applies to even the old cars; installing a pipe from exhaust to passenger cabin doesn’t cost much (under $100).

Oddly, according to latest research, vehicle occupants are exposed to higher levels of pollutants than pedestrians.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) announced that exposure to some air pollutants and toxic compounds may be ten times higher inside vehicles than in ambient air. The two-year, $440,000 study is the first ever to gather particulate data inside vehicles and the first to collect real-time information under a range of traffic and driving conditions.

NOT in a Tesla, though!

Tesla bio-weapon defense mode may reduce particulates, but it does nothing for gases (HC, NOx, CO, etc). In order to reduce those, car has to carry oxygen tanks. By driving behind ICE cars, it’s like having the exhaust from ICE pumped into the Tesla cabin (through some filters).

So that’s what clean diesel means! Diesel exhaust filtered by the Tesla filters.

+1 Hans Wurst.

same as clean coal technology. LOL

Agree VW has invested millions in a new software for cheating undetectable, lol
VW the new Blackberry

Who would expect VW managers to be a pack of liars?

BTW I have made my decision: no new ICE car anymore (no matter how “clean” it is supposed to be) and no new cars from compulsive liars.

Dirty as diesels are, VWs diesels were in fact the cleanest Euro6 (the newest and most stringent EU regulation) diesels made by any manufacturer. I don’t think their cheating want important, but I do think VW continues to be unfairly singled out when many other manufacturers were in fact doing much greater harm. And the evidence has been mounting that at least in Europe, basically all of the manufactures cheated. In fact, the entire type approval system in the EU was set up in such a way as to almost guarantee regulatory failure. Personally I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the US has long had far too cheap petroleum (the polluter pays nothing for polluting, only the direct costs to the provider chain) while Europe has had regulations unfairly favouring diesel over gasoline and carrying but significant carbon taxes on the fuel. European manufactures have a technology edge in terms of fuel efficiency and in small diesel engines. The US makers had a significant cost advantage sans carbon tax. On both sides of the pond the authorities have been regulating to protect their own manufactures – which means not just to management and investors, but equally the many jobs… Read more »

We need a Capt Picard Triple facepalm meme, stat!

VW…what a joke. Guess they decided they will cheat better in the future.

People should Boycott these Flip Flopping Liars..


What a bunch of chuckleheads.

The cheating just got tougher, with Porsche’s Wolfgang Hatz being hauled to Munich’s Big House.

When will VW/Porsche/Audi learn it takes more than money and “LEED certified buildings” to fix its problems? We still have “we didn’t lie” Mueller presuming there’s a distinction between customer wants and compliance with the law. Get it?

I welcome Mr Mueller to stick a exhaust pipe of one of his clean diesels in his mouth and breathe deeply.

Or, use that pipe to feed the Air to his very own Diving Bell!

Just drop down 20-30 feet under water, with that ‘Clean Diesel’ Exhaust feeding him breathing air! Then he will see just how ‘Clean’ it is!

Or have the exhaust piped into his families living room.

So Herbert has an eye on reality and Mattias is old guard. Noted.

Like Repubs, Global Warming is a Hoax, until it destroys Houston, Texas. Some people need to bleed a 50% drop in auto sales before they learn anything.

So are you going to say there’s no global warming next time there’s polar vortex?

No. That would be idiotic since climate scientists say there is global warming.

If they say a polar vortex is evidence that our understanding is wrong, then I’ll say it. 🙂

Scientists say you cannot attribute weather to climate, but MX did. You cannot cherry pick weather that support your position and throw away the other.

Scientists do say that you can expect stronger hurricanes due to global warming, which is what MX was referring to.

Was the 1900 Hurricane in Galveston also due to “global warming/climate change”?
The deadliest natural disaster in North American history killing est 6,000-12,000 human lives:

B/c ol’ “Good Lord, Mr. Ford, what have you done?” was just getting started…

The whole debate between ICE vs electric dumbfounds me at this point. All I’ve heard from electric opponents is “well it’s not viable yet..”

But it is, and it’s cleaner and more efficient. It’s like living with a gangrenous hand instead of cutting it off. The illogical attachment to ICE for many defies logic.

TDI = Toxic Diesel Ingestion !

Or: TDI = Tesla Doesn’t Influence (us)!

Germany just had federal elections and the Green party looks to become part of the next government. Part of the green election manifesto was the demand to ban the sales of ICE vehicles by 2030.
This is a message to the politicians to not go the ban route and let the consumers decide.

“…let the consumer decide…” is code for “We have no intention of providing the consumer viable electric vehicles while we make huge profits from pollution producing LICE (Legacy Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles.”

These guys need to go.

Good summary. Free markets let us pay for what we want.

‘Free markets’… hilarious!

+1 !

Exactly. Translation: “Let consumers decide”, by only offering them what we want to sell.

And Advertise.


It is mighty difficult to change direction, even more so when you like the direction you’ve always gone.

But, failing to see the future when it is staring you in the face is an easy way to go out of business.

LIARS . CHEATS, MURDERERS ,THIEVES. All the quality in-Greed-ience required to make an upstanding company.. Did I miss anything??

VW goes right down the Nokia lane… slow deaths are the most painful to watch (speaking as a German).

I agree , A well deserved self inflicted slow death…

The moment established automakers saw Tesla selling its Model 3 for around 50k, they knew Tesla poses no serious threat to them. Only when “even more affordable” EV is rolled out will they , not feel, but actually be threatened. At present pace it will be achieved in a 15-20 years from now, not sooner. Unless EV makers come up with revolutionary wireless charging system, 5 min to 80% charge hands down, literally. You can’t take diesel down without cordless charging !

It’s so true. The afforablity mantra was scaring CEOs of these autogroups but it was release that the 3 well equip at 50k they just cancel thier plans. Why you think at the Frankfort Auto shows were all concepts for 2020, give me a guess, tesla blew it.

This, exactly. The EV fanboys here sound like idiots. Tesla is not a thread to VW or any other manufacturer that makes reasonably priced cars. They are only a threat to luxury car manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes not to mention even the supercharger network isn’t fast enough when it comes to charging.

Ford, GM, VW, Mazda, etc can start worrying when 300 mile range EVs that can charge in 10 minutes are selling for $20k. Meanwhile, they can just wait for companies like Tesla to do all the hard work.

Are these posts coming from the same person? Jay usually watches the IPs, and the rest of us never can tell, but posts by unfamiliar, short-named visitors seem pretty high, lately.

Just as random information about InsideEVs and the comment community:

We do tend to monitor comment IDs, profiles, IPs etc pretty closely and have a decently sophisticated system to monitor such actions if it gets out of control.

And while don’t give out public info, I can say these are separate people in this case. For example this “me” has posted ~8 times, the first being on August 1st, 2018.

Thanks for your vigilance on that Jay.

I guess we can just say that trolls will be trolls?

…no problemo, we try our best to keep the IDs (and eliminate the ‘responding to oneself’ in a thread) on the level

He’s a time traveler too!

oops…meant to say 2017 of course, (=

No, he was born that day. He’s a fast learner so give him another month to come around.

Trolls/bots have no problem employing multiple handles over many different IP’s. Mass adoption of EV’s would hurt Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia greatly. It’s much cheaper to employ the deny and delay game, so successfully employed by the lead industry, cigarette industry, and auto industry, prior, than it is to allow EV’s to flourish.

We don’t need to import idiots from abroad, we have plenty here. I’m sure most of the ignorants are Americans, unfortunately.

Bulls***… Do you know how expensive was the first real mobile phone, made by Motorola, in ’83? The selling price was $10k, with a terrible gsm coverage as well… Look where we are now! The technology has changed many times in the last 30 years, going from “brick” phone to nice hand held devices, from nice HH devices to smartphones with extraodinary processing power and very quick internet connection. From $10k for a “brick” with a poor display, to $200 for a reasonable touchscreen smartphone or much, much less for a decent talk-only device…

In the early 1960’s a Color TV costed More than a Brand new Luxury car…

Waiting for the success of the others is not a wise tactic… Look what happend to Nokia, when Apple introduced the first iPhone! 🙂 Do remember that Musk is not stupid, investing in smart electric powertrains and especialy battery technology is the key for lower cost, longer range and faster charging EV’s… Just waiting for others success means that you are going to be washed away when the “tsunami” will arrive. And it will arrive soon!

On the other hand, some VW managers claim that in about 3 years we’ll see a VW EV that’s gonna cost as their today’s diesel models… How about that?…

“The EV fanboys here sound like idiots. Tesla is not a thread to VW or any other manufacturer that makes reasonably priced cars. They are only a threat to luxury car manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes…”

No doubt Eastman Kodak execs were telling themselves that about digital cameras circa 1990.

And no doubt BlackBerry execs were telling themselves that when the iPhone first appeared, too.

How did that attitude work out, again?

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

This guy have no ID (at least until 2020).

TDI = To Die Incrementally

Now, if we can find some CLEAN way to speed up the process for the Newest VW CEO.

VW must be pulling these CEOs from their VW Clean “Die-Sell” farfegnugen Clown Cars.

Jean-François Morissette

I think those guys don’t really understand climate change…

It’s not that they don’t understand it, it’s simply that there is no profit in it for them.

The moment when that happens, they will cease ICE production overnight,

They are more interested in their shareholders than the planet or people’s health.

Jean-François Morissette

I know, but in the end, if we destroy the economy, there won’t be any profit to be made…

They are part of the game, as we are all, and we must stop the denial and the short term view.

So here is the real dynamic of the “ability” difference beteeen Tesla & Volkswagen:

Tesla is in the business of developing and providing products and services intended to serve as a change agent/catalyst to transform global energy generation and consumption from carbon based to solar (and other renewable energy) based. Tesla developing and direct selling EVs (soon to also crowd share EVs) is a byproduct of Tesla’s mission statement but… and only one component of fulfilling Tesla’s mission statement.

Volkswagen on the other hand is in the business of manufacturing cars to supply a vast dealer franchise network. Even if Volkswagen had the desire to tomorrow discontinue all ICE cars production and only make EV’s they could not because Volkswagen’s customer is the Volkswagen dealer franchise network and that customer’s business mission is to *today* sell the maximum number of cars possible and maximize the after-sale forward residual of servicing those cars.

Both Tesla & Volkswagen are car makers but at the same time they are NOT in the same business.

For Volkswagen to compete against Tesla Volkswagen would need to fundamentally change their primary business mission and that is not going to happen.

Then VW has chosen to die on the hill of supplying their franchises.
So be it.

Did his mother feed him diesel when he was young?

It used to cure cancer…until recently when it reversed its properties.

i hope tesla will soon buy vw ?

I’d prefer Tesla just buy, at fire-sale pricing, the factories that are in a good strategic location when the LICE (Thanks G2) crowd flounders.

Da nada Amigo.

Traditional automakers are going to have to start phasing out traditional ICE vehicles and start ramping up plug-ins. The steepness of the curve is debatable, but it’s better to be on the proactive side instead of the reactive side. I think all the automakers are trying to figure out where the Goldilocks zone is.

let’s go war, with ice lovers, not buy their garbage, and someday they will loose all their money

Another over-the-top comment, by someone “new?” to InsideEVs.

Too bad. Because that VW ID, looks like an EXCELLENT replacement for the BMW i3, and possibly more affordable.

Kind of a provocation to say the consumers should decide if they want to pollute our air or not. I drive an ICE too, but those people who do not breathe the same air. There is no clean combustion engine in the true meaning of the word.

Reminds me of what the Palm CEO said on the eve of the iPhone:

“PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Even PROUD VW has just taken a quarterly Eur3 Billion charge to account for the cost of making their Diesels saleable.

Ultimately, they estimate this is going to cost around 30 Billion (Now THATs a lot of coin), and the Germans just arrested VW’s chief engineer, over the ‘clean diesel’ lying.

Perhaps Europeans are proud of the wide selection of vehicles the Wolfsburg corporation makes, but here in the States, I’m very underwhelmed by the choices we have from this company. Yes, the interiors are typically that very comfortable Leatherette I remember from my old VW beetle, but the cars’ batteries are too small for the BEVs, and a JOKE for the PHEVs.

Diesels obviously will be around for some time to come, at least as in PHEV charge sustainers – but VW’s and Robert Bosch’s deceptions have cost both companies dearly.

It would be helpful if they were just a bit more humble on this point.

That 3bn Euro charge, against U.S. VWs being made compliant is questionable, since so few cars have been “fixed”.

These cars needed an SCR system (which only ~1/3 had), or they won’t comply. That simple. How many SCR system retrofits can our 3-letter newbies link me to? That is what the other diesel makers did. Is doing your share too much to ask, VW? Thought so.

Realistically, Tesla is a POTENTIAL threat but not an IMMEDIATE threat.

A loss of 500,000 auto sales over two years isn’t going to put them under when they sell 20 million in that same period.

Well, they need some publicity to cover up the recent news from this week:
The crime lords at VW were just slapped with a 880 million Euro (approx. 1 bn US$) fine for violating EU anti-trust laws in the field of semi trucks.
And, news from just a few hours ago, apparently VW just found out that there are about 0.5 million VW gasoline engines currently driving around in the US with illegal software, put on the streets in the last decades. I guess the US will get a pretty decent charging network out of the additional fines if the judge plays it right…

Just idiots drive VW

AFAIK, this is a bit unfair to say. It’s not like they intentionally bought over-polluting vehicles. They bought them in good faith.

I’m sure there are a lot of VW owners that would love to get rid of their VW’s and the anger they feel against VW, but VW selling value fell through the floor making it a very expensive proposition. Beyond that, it’s not like this story gets much airtime on mainstream media.

People named Hans struggle with creating complete sentences …

What about Franz of Hans and Franz?

Gonna pump you up!

Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel, German thermal engineer who invented the internal-combustion engine that bears his name.

Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist of Germany who invented the prototype of the modern gasoline engine.

Diesel (probably) committed suicide. VW (porbably) wants to follow him with their Diesels.

ICE and electric drivetrain will coexist for 15-20 years, agreed… but Diesel ICEs for passenger cars will be gone sooner rather than later due to pollution issues.

Once 5-6 major European or other cities ban them (and it’s already on the way for ~3-4), others will follow very quickly plus whole countries. VW was already pretty much the only carmaker offering passenger Diesels in the US, and that market’s D-E-A-D.

Of course, there’ll be Diesels on trucks for a while yet, but I suspect we’ll see a move to serial plug-in hybrids fairly quickly.

Matthias Mueller, CEO of Volkswagen Group, said:

“The diesels we are offering today are clean.”


Did you practice saying that with a straight face?

“They comply with the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) requirements and they meet the requirements and needs of our customers.”

Translation: Here at Volkswagen, we have invested so much money in diesel engines that we are desperate to deny the reality that they are seen as undesirable, and will rapidly become obsolete.

VW is going to get whacked by China.
It’s high time the Diesel subsidies are cut Worldwide.

“We can’t compare apples with pears. Tesla is a company that sells less than 100,000 units and we sell 10 million. Currently, Tesla burns a 3 digit million amount and we’ve got results of 12 to 13 billion euros per year, so I think we have to be realistic here.” And yet, rather than hedge your bets and build a really awesome EV with 1-2bil of those Euro’s, just sit on your hands and watch the new order come in. Tesla might only be selling a small volume at the moment, but what they are really doing is building a brand that people recognise and resonate with. I predict when VW finally realises this Tesla will have sold their 500,000 Model 3’s and be really well along with potential Model Y. And once they have both luxury and mid market covered, how long before they decide to release a $20k economy model? And judging by the Model 3 reservations, how many are actually wanting their Tesla and waiting their opportunity? Maybe VW, and all the traditional manufacturers, don’t have anything to worry about, but it seems incredible none of them have actually used any of their billions to create a… Read more »

VW needs to fire their current CEO stat!

Give it a few years and diesel gate 2 will be found. FU VW.

VW is owned by saudi arabia! and the electric car is a threat to oil industry! so no surprise there when the ceo want more oil cars on the roads.

It is the Sovereign wealth fund of Qatar that owns a $9 Billion stake in VW. They are ranked the third largest shareholder.

Diesels will still dominate in shipping, trains, heavy vehicles and buses, but why is VW so particular about selling Diesel cars which.

For a private vehicle like cars, crossovers, vans, a hybrid is more fuel efficient in both city/highway driving and also cheaper.

And VW already had a good hybrid vehicle in Jetta which they unnecessarily phased out instead of applying it in other vehicles like Toyota did.

May be a part of VW is owned by some oil producing OPEC country which is preventing them from moving away from combustion engines.

How Tesla is a real threat to VW:
almost all of my (German) family drive VWs for generations of cars, including myself.
Beetle (the old one), Golf I, Golf II, Golf III, Golf IV, Lupo, Jetta, Passat – the list of cars my family owned and still owns from VW is very, very long. There is something like a tradition to drive a VW. VW – that was something you could rely on.
But things have changed. Of course the Diesel scandal, rumors of cartel agreements and scandals before (hookers for the chairman of the works council) VW did its best to ruin all trust in them.
And right now there is this new Tesla company (as an indirect result of the EV1 scandal) that shows us that BEVs are possible.
Tesla is not a direct threat to VW, as VW is more a threat to themselves, but a threat to the traditional VW customers’ minds.
It’s a bit like Tchernobyl and finally Fukoshima changed the way people look at nuclear power.