VW’s Herbert Diess Says Tesla Is Doing A Good Job & Has An Edge

FEB 28 2019 BY EVANNEX 41


The dieselgate scandal has plagued Volkswagen for the past decade. But Patrick McGee writes in the Financial Times, “The emissions scandal was an accelerant for an already-needed turnround strategy.” He explains that VW’s new “strategy [has] involved making the German carmaker competitive against a slew of… electric car start-ups led by Tesla and a host of Chinese rivals.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Posted by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Looking to the future, Tesla and VW differ in their approach 

Although electric cars have many attractive qualities including instant torque, simpler maintenance, and (of course) zero tailpipe emissions, VW’s CEO Herbert Diess got attracted to the idea of EVs through a toy helicopter he bought for his son.

“We flew the helicopter and the bloody thing flew for about 10 minutes,” Diess told FT, recalling how impressed he was given the small battery size. After that moment, he became convinced that electric vehicles could be the future of automotive.

Diess adds, “A helicopter is the most inefficient machine in the world. It has no aerodynamics, it’s awful, you need another propeller just to stabilise it. It is probably five times less efficient than an aeroplane… If you can fly a helicopter, then it is easy to do it for cars.”

Above: VW’s e-Golf charging in the Netherlands (Flickr: www.routexel.com)

So who’ll turn out to be the EV leader by 2030? Diess ponders the future. “What will be the names of the big players, I can’t tell you. It might be Tesla, it might be Apple, it might be someone from China. I hope that it will be still Volkswagen; we are working hard.”

Asked for his thoughts on Tesla specifically, Diess admits, “I think Tesla is doing a good job. They don’t have to care about the legacy. They don’t have to care about the next generation of gasoline in motors and so they can really focus on the future. It’s an advantage.”

And with the industry’s push for ride-sharing and self-driving features, the focus on software talent is sharpening. “Some of our competitors have much more speed when it comes to software — software deployment and capabilities where we are still lagging behind,” Diess said.

Above: Tesla’s Model 3 (Flickr: harry_nl)

Indeed, Marie Mawad reports in Bloomberg, “Automotive manufacturers are turning toward the type of software-first design that Tesla Inc. has already implemented.” Speaking with Marco Monti, head of automotive at chipmaker ST Microelectronics NV, he concurs. Monti says, “It’s a change all carmakers want to implement now.”


Source: Financial TimesBloomberg

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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41 Comments on "VW’s Herbert Diess Says Tesla Is Doing A Good Job & Has An Edge"

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Just don’t hire the sync people from Ford.

“Just don’t hire the people from Ford who allowed microsoft anywhere near their products.”


Dude – Sync is awesome! The voice-activated interface in my 2010 Mercury Mariner hybrid is still the most reliable and versatile system on the market! It recognizes abbreviations and made-up words, like the Ina-gadda-da-vida album (Iron Butterfly) from my iPod (amazing that 9-yr old iPod still works, too!), and I can voice dial anyone on my iPhone seamlessly.

I have heard that the touchscreen interface, MyFord Touch, was terrible. However, Sync never ceases to amaze! Based on what I’ve read from Tesla owners w/r/t iPhone integration, I’ll miss my Ford when I eventually switch to Tesla.

I have two Tesla Model 3’s and a 2010 F-150 with Sync. I stopped using Sync before the first year was up because it was so terrible. The phone integration of the Model 3 blows away Sync! Don’t be fooled by the detractors. There is a campaign to make the Model 3 look bad and not all “owners” are actual owners. The oil and gas companies and the legacy automakers are running scared. Tesla has only put a small dent in the sale of ICE cars but that’s only because they have limited production capacity. But production capacity is scheduled to double shortly. And then quadruple.

…and before seeing his son’s toy helicopter, he had never seen a drone flying by, and wondered, I wonder what makes them go. More proof that sucking in exhaust fumes addles your brain. Go tell it on the Mountain. He saw the light but it’s a clear day and it’s after 9 already, clearly not the dawn of evs anymore, though it’s still morning.

During what part of the CEO of VW’s day do you suppose he’d see a drone flying by?

Tom, I think ffbj is trying to say Mr. Deiss could have seen a lot more things with batteries before that helicopter. Like looking down at his phone and be amazed at the thing lasting for 12 hours or more.

Batteries on cellphone and laptops are horrible

ya phone and moving 5,000 lbs. is similar…

To me, an anecdote into his personal life (the helicopter) makes his Tesla comment all the more genuine. Executives under VAG’s control don’t often speak so freely.

Refutes yet another quote by Bob Lutz:
“Tesla has no … tech advantage, no software advantage, no battery advantage. No advantages whatsoever.” – Bob Lutz on CNBC, September 18 2018

That was Bob Putz talking about Elon Tusk.

Deiss’s quote only refutes the last part though (no advantages whatsoever).

Deiss stated/hinted that Tesla’s advantage is not having to keep increasing the efficiency of petrol and diesel engines as government standards increase.

He also stated they have a huge edge in tech, which other automakers are just starting to realize and need to work toward. He admitted that VW tech is behind, too.

Tesla has many advantages, but the Gigafactory is perhaps the biggest. The pace of change in the auto industry is so fast that you need to plan for vastly increased battery demand years in advance, Tesla had the vision to do this years ago. The legacy OEMs are still playing around when they need to act fast or be left behind.

From article: “…Asked for his [VW’s CEO Herbert Deiss] thoughts on Tesla specifically, Deiss admits, “I think Tesla is doing a good job. They don’t have to care about the legacy. They don’t have to care about the next generation of gasoline in motors and so they can really focus on the future. It’s an advantage.”…”


It’s very encouraging to hear VW openly say that… effectively overcoming a challenge starts by acquiring situational awareness.

What VW’s Deiss said is absolutely Tesla’s #1 advantage over traditional car makers… from the top-line executives to the independent franchise dealership sales force.

In my opinion Volvo is the traditional car maker doing the most things right to address this Tesla advantage… Volvo may prove out to be an EV maker dark horse. The biggest challenge Volvo will face is pushback from their franchise dealer network that are very resistive to any change especially the car ownership “subscription” (Care by Volvo) model Volvo is promoting… which I think is a brilliant forward thinking move by Volvo.

At least Volvo is rightly focusing on the job and doesn’t seem to get too cocky about it, unlike most of VW Group.

yup elon is never cocky….

” the car ownership “subscription” (Care by Volvo) model Volvo is promoting… which I think is a brilliant forward thinking move by Volvo.”
I like the sound of where that could go. Improve the lease scenario to be more like AT&T Next program. Give me a fair monthly price to drive your new model and if I want to upgrade later it will be easier. Maintenance and warranty covered. Market should keep dealer in line so price doesn’t collapse. More like the ride share without the share would be cool.

It’s what I’ve been trying to tell folks here (like bro1999), Tesla doesn’t have to worry about competing against internal combustion products within it’s company- that’s the BEV advantage.

For many who follow things, it’s clearly an expected advantage … for others, somehow they still believe that legacy OEM’s still know or can do something better then Tesla (other than easily manufacture high number of ICE cars which they clearly can do). I think by now, They should clearly drop this idea that this is the case and will not be the case for the next little while …

They hit first, so they hit twice. Is clear that today Tesla put in the market the best electric cars. But recent Polestar and others to come has a chance, more when the growth of the EVs sales will permit every maker to increase sales for years. Big brands were sleeping into petrol vapours for years, delaying the electric transition and let Tesla become a great contender. Today they have another competitor. Congratulations.

judging by my infotainment system in my 2013 Passat, I’d say VW had Zero speed….. in software development in 2013. So his son’s lipo power helicopter was the light going off in his head that it was possible! Why is he running this company?

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else. he will hold to the one, and despise the other…” IMO, this will be the dilemma of the legacy automakers.

Tesla has no such conflict, they have a clear vision-strategy, focus, and deep commitment to their products, infrastructure, and customers. Despite not having the financial resources Tesla has been progressing at an astonishing rate. Mr. Musk and Tesla may not be perfect – but who is doing better?

Diess is right about Tesla. They do have an advantage. And I don’t think their advantage is as much in technology as it is with business. You see, Tesla put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak. It’s a risky move, but if they picked the right basket, then it is a winning move. It seems they did pick the right basket. Companies like VW can’t do that. They can’t talk up the advantages of EVs without making their existing products look like dinosaurs. Unlike Tesla, they have to keep selling their gasoline powered cars to fund development of their EV program.

Duh – do ya think?

Dieselgate didn’t plagued VW. They called it upon themselfes.

🙂 * This is wide spread common knowledge on this planet . Diess should tell us something that we don’t know…

Wow! No CAPS. System love this!

Cheers !

This is why I always thought that ICE automakers needed to put big money behind a new EV brand with next gen EV versions of current legacy models. For BMW the brand would be i-BMW with all the models leading with i (i3, i3, i7, etc). This way the ICE side of the company can focus there, and the EV side would focus there not afraid to compete with their own ICE brand helping the transition to Ev.

Each of the ICE manufacturers has many times more cash than Tesla has, and an investment equal to what Tesla has invested, along with forward thinking, could have helped each ICE manufacturer be much further ahead than they are now and even 5 years from now. Because they will alway be dragged down by their focus on ICE and profitability there vs EV profitability.

Next, we know thqt Tesla offered all the ICE manufacturers an option to use their software systems, but each wanted Tesla to modify it in so many ways that was not worth Tesla’s effort, and would distract Tesla from moving forward. Not an option.

That’s what I was saying many years ago that Ford should have done with the Mercury brand! A missed golden opportunity. They could have had models with names like Hg (luxury sedan hatch like the Model S), Quicksilver (sports car), Hermes (pickup or luxury SUV), etc.

Volkswagen is working hard to prevent e-Golf drivers from getting a tow hitch. Still no convincing technical reason why e-Golf is not allowed to tow by Volkswagen.

There’s a great political reason not to have it – it would make it super popular in Europe. If they don’t *want* it to be popular, preventing a hitch will help that.

No one in Europe uses the tow hitch.

Helicopters don’t fly. The just beat the air into submission. LOL

Never heard of that one – I love it. Perfect description!

The biggest threat to any current automaker is not other automakers (including Tesla) – its subscription and ride hailing services. The average vehicle has about 4% utilization. With ubiquitous subscription and ride hailing services, car ownership becomes pointless for the vast majority of the population. Total vehicles sales per year could be 10% of what they are today, hence we could see 80+% of the automakers go bankrupt. In this regard, companies with partnerships like GM with Maven, Ford with Lyft, etc may be a much bigger key to survival that trying to sell EVs to consumers.

This is particularly true with the demographic shifts to cities (here in the US) and the Millennials being unable to afford cars (and quite a few simply not wanting cars regardless of cost).

Still VW group is betting on Diesel. This time they are using mild hybrid system with a lithium battery (probably just 0.5 KWh) to recuperate some energy.
We have to be happy that at least they are using some type of hybrid.

Hope the 150,000 + plugin vehicle sales last month should have sent shockwaves to VW HQ. They cannot dillydally anymore.

“They don’t have to care about the next generation of gasoline in motors and so they can really focus on the future. It’s an advantage.”


I’ve been saying for quite a while now. That the current lines of ICE engines are a weight around the necks of legacy ICE car makers, not some great advantage that will help them be competitive with companies like Tesla and Rivian. Every line of ICE cars they currently build has a huge cost tied to them just to keep them current on ever-changing global emissions regulations. Much of those costs are fixed, that will end up being HIGHER on a per-unit cost basis every year that EV’s take market share from ICE cars. All the R&D they sink into ICE engines will get harder and harder to recoup with each generation of cars.

Meanwhile, the investment Tesla put into Model 3 R&D is on pace to be spread around 5:1 the ratio of units that the Model S R&D is spread across, and will continue to move in that direction. And no spending on emissions devices just to meet ever tighter emissions regulations!