Volkswagen CEO: ‘Anything You [Tesla] Can Do, We Can Do Better’

6 months ago by Steven Loveday 95

Volskwagen

The Audi E-Tron Quattro will be the first of Volkswagen Group’s new all-electric vehicles to enter market (2018).

Volkswagen Group ranks among the largest automakers in the world, and for this reason, the company believes it has the resources to leave Tesla in the dust.

Though Tesla is years ahead of VW’s plans for electrification, and the Silicon Valley automaker plans to be producing 500,000 cars a year by the end of next year, and perhaps one million by 2020, VW believes it will win. Volkswagen brand boss, Herbert Diess, said at a recent press conference:

“Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass.”

Volkswagen

Tesla affordable mass-market Model 3 will enjoy years of sales before VW comes to market. In the interim, Tesla will be working on its Model Y, as well as an electric pickup truck, among other projects.

VW is comprised of a myriad of companies, all of which will move to electrification, and all of which can share architecture, components, and assembly. The automaker won’t truly break into the EV market until 2019 or 2020, but plans to sell one million EVs by 2025, five years behind Tesla’s similar target. Diess continued:

“We are confident that in this new world, we will become a market leader.”

There is really no question as to whether or not VW has the capacity and resources to exceed in high volume electric vehicle sales. It is more a question of …Will it actually happen? Follow through is key here. To go so far as to say, “Anything you can do, we can do better,” may be a bit of a stretch. Diess said of Tesla:

“It’s our ambition, with our new architecture, to stop them there, to rein them in.”

Of course Volkswagen Group can handle immense volume, and one would assume that the automakers will create compelling electrified products, but better is the sticky point. Bigger is not always better, and volume is not always king. It could surely mean competitive pricing, and healthy competition is welcome in the new segment.

Volkswagen has had problems in the past with follow through, and to this day the automaker still has profitability issues. It will be years, if ever, before VW can completely separate itself from the dieselgate scandal. For now, getting back on track, cutting costs, and generating a profit needs to come ahead of anything else.

Source: Green Car Reports

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95 responses to "Volkswagen CEO: ‘Anything You [Tesla] Can Do, We Can Do Better’"

  1. Lawrence says:

    The best that Volkswagen can do is sell picture of EV concepts at this point (aside from the market lagging eGolf that they really don’t want to sell.)

  2. Seuthès says:

    “Don’t says ! Just do it !”

    1. Djoni says:

      Right!
      All people can loose weight, get in shape, stop smoking, eat well.
      You just got to do it.

  3. Rick says:

    Not hard to believe since it’s not very complicated to make EVs.. they take their time for sure, but by 2020 they’ll have some very compelling products. If Tesla doesn’t figure out their quality issues, this could be quite a serious threat. People put up with the quality issues now, but when they have other options, it’ll be a different story.

    1. Chris O says:

      You seriously believe VW will have a build quality edge on Tesla? Not if their current line up of questionable build quality internal combustion vehicles is any indication.

      1. Alan says:

        They already do have a build quality edge on Tesla !

        But not a technology edge ATM.

        1. Chris O says:

          “Already”? What I see is that after 70 years of trying to get it right VW is still struggling, many customers ending up spending fortunes keeping their VW’s and Audi’s running and VW brands systematically failing to gain high or even average ratings in reliability statistics.

          1. BenG says:

            Newer Audi’s did well on recent Consumer Reports surveys, pulling their brand average up to “Better than Average” (4/5).

            1. Warren says:

              Porsche has been near top in quality surveys too.

              1. Chris O says:

                Yep, Porsche gets it right. At a price…

            2. Chris O says:

              But what if they get a bit older?

            3. Nix says:

              Tesla quality has also improved. In fact, the Model X quality improved 92% after the first months of production. The Model S saw similar improvements in quality after their first year.

              But Audi has had DECADES to improve their quality. Tesla has been improving quality at a much more rapid pace. Things are not clear cut when you pit 2020 Audi quality vs. 2020 Tesla quality (based upon each company’s rate of improvement, and the fact that VW simply doesn’t have the experience in building as many EV’s as Tesla).

              1. BenG says:

                Yep, definitely not clear cut. For 2016 vehicles Audi wins, despite Model S reliability improving dramatically that year. We’ll have to see on 2017s.

                I don’t really see any reason to assume Audi/Porsche will be better quality than Tesla in 2020, just making the point that are not bad reliability the way they used to be.

                1. pjwood1 says:

                  I don’t go to Rennlist much, anymore, but hilariously one guy is worried his Porsche hybrid didn’t get the “Audi spec oil”. Those in line for the Panamera SE-hybrid are getting told there’s a 2 month delay, for “software”. There’s the usual need for maintenance worship, that VW Group has these people hooked into. I remember it was so bad with the diesels, that people with exploded fuel pumps were “guilty of using gas, until proven innocent”. VW/Porsche/Audi still think, “yeah, let’s keep it here”.

                  I don’t think you can score internal combustion quality against electric quality, like I believe they do. Problems need to be defined as sidelining, or the smaller, niggling issues which have bedeviled Tesla. Not the same thing.

      2. SJC says:

        Car companies building products for fifty years have the resources to crush Tesla. In the case of VW it is not press releases but actual product that could do it.

        1. Mil says:

          I’m sure that’s what Kodak said when the digital camera technology kicked in. Or what PalmOS said when it’s competitor came out. Or Blockbuster said when internet streaming started to take off.

          Get the point? No company, no matter how big, is immune to irrelevancy. Fail to move with the times and the company is at risk of becoming bust. EV technology is a massive disruption technology and so many of the traditional car manufacturers will refuse to embrace it fully as they believe it is just a fad that will go away. Unfortunately, by the time they fully realise it is not a fad, they will have realised they’ve done too little, too late.

          1. SJC says:

            You don’t have a point, comparing different situations does not make a point. VW, GM and others can all make fine EVs.

            1. TomArt says:

              So could Kodak…

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              SJC said:

              “You don’t have a point, comparing different situations does not make a point. VW, GM and others can all make fine EVs.”

              SJC, you are the one who doesn’t get the point.

              In every disruptive tech revolution, some of the industry leaders in the old tech fail to survive the transition, and go out of business. At the same time, new companies emerge as the market leaders. If you really think the same thing won’t happen in the EV revolution, then you have failed to learn the lesson of history.

              Does that guarantee Tesla will grow to become a major player, and survive long-term (that is, 20+ years)? No, of course not. But to suggest that VW has a better chance just because they’re bigger, is firmly ignoring the lesson of history. Larger companies have a harder time making a major change, partly because they have so much money invested in outdated infrastructure.

              Tesla is a much more agile company than VW, and I certainly wouldn’t place any bets on VW over Tesla! Will VW survive? Maybe. But if so, they’re gonna have to do a lot better than they have so far!

        2. BenG says:

          Tesla isn’t going to be so easy to crush. They appear to be leaping out to lead the industry in automation: “the machine that builds the machine”. We’ll see how the Model 3 roll-out goes.

          VW is a massive massive company and yes they could dedicate more money to EVs than Tesla is, but Tesla has a big lead at the moment and is also spending like crazy to keep advancing, so VW has a moving target.

        3. speculawyer says:

          Oh Really? Where are they going to get the batteries from? The battery is the most critical component of an EV.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Uh-oh. Someone went and pointed out the elephant in the room, darn it! 😉

        4. Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart says:

          There are significant similarities in the software industry. Just because IBM has been building software for many years – and they do have strong engineers – that does not mean they have a competitive advantage over AWS, or Slack, or… pick your small, fast growing company that can hire top talent and has limited legacy constraints.

          Software is eating the world…

          1. pjwood1 says:

            Thank you for recognizing “what is”.

            Software has learned how to weigh what you value, and dial it back just enough so that you’ll stick around and pay them more, just to get some of it back.

            We love those guys.

      3. Will Davis says:

        VW’s build quality is not bad. It’s their tendency to cheat emissions tests that is.

    2. floydboy says:

      Which quality issues would those be, and why would people be FORCED to put up with them?

    3. speculawyer says:

      Well the plug-ins that they have put out so far have been mediocre at best.

    4. Stx says:

      No, they won’t have nothing in 2020 just as they have nothing today.

  4. goodbyegascar says:

    Tesla’s master plan is working.

    1. electric future says:

      I would welcome a serious effort by Volkswagen and every big automaker for that matter. Tesla can’t make a car for everyone, we need the entire industry to transition. The sooner the better.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Indeed.

        But VW has repeatedly claimed it’s gonna become a leader in the EV revolution “real soon now”… then utterly, completely failed to do any follow-through.

        Where are VW’s own battery cell factories? They don’t exist. When VW is actually in the process of building large-scale battery factories, then and only then will it be the time to start taking seriously their claims about becoming a leader in the EV market.

        Not every large auto maker is going to survive the EV revolution. Right now, it doesn’t look that good for Volkswagen.

  5. Alaa says:

    Where will they get the batteries from? They need a giga Factory. We do not know until today if they will have a factory that can compete with Tesla. Remember that the Giga factory in Nevada will have zero cost for energy. It will run on the sun, while Germany imports LNG from Russia to stay alive. Not to mention the natural resources like Lithium that Tesla has under its feet. Then we get into the bigger problem of software. Just where will the Germans get the software boys from? Silicon valley is having trouble as it is to import these talents. Tesla is not a car company any more. Soon you will sit behind the screen surfing the web or watching youtube while travelling from one side of the nation to the other. How will the Germans do that? The best they have is SAP and it is no even close to Apple Microsoft etc. This man is dreaming and I wish I am wrong. We need VW to make millions of cars like Tesla by 2019 not 2025.

    1. BenG says:

      LOL at “zero cost energy” for the Nevada gigafactory.

      Even if they did build enough solar to offset Gigafactory energy consumption (not happening anytime soon), that is far from zero cost energy.

      1. Alaa says:

        Ok I will try. Here in Cairo Egypt I have solar panels that run my house. I have about 1000 18650 that I put together and an inverter. I use a Samsung air condition 12,000 BTU. It is the inverter type so it consumes very little. We have 3400 of sunny hours per year. I have free electricity for as long as the sun shines on us here in Egypt. Now that was me with the little resources that I have. Tesla sells the Powerwall and Powerpack. If you noticed they are using these to run islands in Hawaii. So could you imagine what Tesla can do with these batteries and some solar panels that they make? I have more electricity than what I need. Tesla will have the same, I am sure. So I was wrong. They will get paid for the electricity that they sell to Nevada. I am not selling the extra electricity that I am producing. So it is not Zero cost. Tesla will get PAID for it. So if this factory does nothing at all it will still make money. In a stock market crash that is an asset. So the value of Tesla shares will not be ZERO because they will sell electricity to Nevada.

        1. BenG says:

          And you spent how much on your solar panels and batteries?

          1. Alaa says:

            $0.5 per solar watt. You can get it cheaper now days. I did that system 4 years ago. Try this link,

            https://www.enfsolar.com/pv/panel

            The old lap top batteries were EGP 2 and each one had 4 18650 that were good. So ~1000/4=250 multiply that with EGP 2 you get about EGP 500. welding etc. add EGP 500. Peanuts.

            Now the inverter was EGP 5000. It is a 2400 kW inverter.

            All in all it was less than EGP 10,000. The exchange rate keeps changing badly. So you work it out. Remember I did it a few years ago. You can do the same in the US in a much better way. You can buy 14kWh with the inverter etc. all in one for $6,500 from Tesla. Add some more money for the solar panels then you reach $10,000 to have electricity for 10 to 20 years. A very good deal if you ask me.

            Here is an extra calculation for you. If you buy a used EV for say $6,000 like a Nissan Leaf or even better you get one of these good deals for about $13,000 for a new one, and add another $10,000 for solar and battery storage then you will have a car that will run for 20 years from the sun and the house AC fridge etc also will run on that system. Now remember the 2 together are less than the average cost of a gasoline car in the US. So effectively you will get a car free fuel for it and the house for a good 20 years. I know what you will say now how come free after paying $20,000 for all of the above. I consider $1,000 per year for a car and the fuel for it and the electricity to run my house as free. In the US you are more lucky than me because you will get tax credit on that system too.

            1. Alaa says:

              Sorry I missed a comma. The inveter is 2,4kW. It is a small one, but it runs well and is more than enough.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Buying solar panels is not zero cost. Getting the panels installed is not zero cost — not even if you do it yourself. Maintenance and amortized replacement costs are not zero cost.

          So stop with the nonsense, Alaa. You’re just digging yourself deeper into the hole.

          And next time, say “lower cost”. That might actually be a rational argument. “Zero cost” never, ever will be.

      2. speculawyer says:

        Yeah, that stuff was nonsense. You need to pay for the solar PV panels. Of course, if Tesla makes their own solar PV panels since they own SolarCity now, they get them at cost.

        But Tesla already gets cheap electricity from the deal they did with Nevada.

    2. Someone out there says:

      If the solar panels are free then the Gigafactory is free as well, all they have to do is to build it. Imagine that, a completely free factory!

      1. Nix says:

        Someone way out there —

        Have you ever bought a “free after rebate” item? This is like that, except better. Yes, Tesla will have to pay upfront wholesale costs to build their solar array. But just like a “free after rebate” deal, Tesla will earn their money back in electricity they generate.

        Even better than a “free after rebate” deal, where you wait 8-12 weeks for the rebate, Tesla will keep getting their money back over and over, producing electricity that more than pays back what they will pay to install it.

        Now, if you don’t understand how “Free after Rebate” is also free over time, then I’m sure you won’t understand how this is also free over time.

        1. BenG says:

          It’s not free over time. It may, at some point many years after construction, provide energy cheaper than the grid, but it still has a cost. That cost just declines as the initial capital investment is amortized over more and more years.

          Someone mentioned Tesla already gets cheap electricity through their deal(s) with Nevada, which would not be surprising. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from a solar farm is still expensive compared to grid electricity in most places, especially so if you are also building grid-scale batteries to go along with the panels like someone mentioned, and also especially so if you are comparing to bulk low-cost grid rates with a sweet-heart deal.

          At least with the panels there is some fair chance they will significantly outlast the lifespan used to determine levelized cost. If the farm is still in use 50 years after installation, where the levelized cost used a lifespan of 25 years, then, yeah, at that point you might be getting to the point you can call electricity harvested from it “free”. But you will need to count on the farm lasting significantly longer than 25 years, just to get the LCOE down to what they are paying for bulk grid power under present arrangements.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Nix said:

          “But just like a ‘free after rebate’ deal, Tesla will earn their money back in electricity they generate.”

          Hmmm, not unless they can sell excess power to the grid. Is that what you’re claiming? I don’t recall seeing any arrangement that would let Tesla sell power to local utilities. But you’re nearly always right, Nix, so I could have missed that.

          If they can’t sell excess power, then it’s not “free”; it merely costs less than buying it from the grid.

        3. Someone out there says:

          That’s still not free. It just means that the panels pay themselves off after a while compared to buying power from the grid. That isn’t free, it’s just lower cost electricity. You’re still paying for it.

    3. speculawyer says:

      “Where will they get the batteries from?”

      Indeed. Anyone that wants to have a real presence in the EV marketplace MUST have a high-volume, low-cost source for batteries. Tesla has their Gigafactory. Others are relying on LG Chem. China has their own factories.

      1. Alaa says:

        Thank you.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        …and LG Chem can’t possibly supply as many batteries as all its customers would need, if everyone starts ramping up EV production.

        The only EV makers who are going to have a shot at being market leaders are those which build their own high-volume battery cell factories. Doesn’t have to be one giant plant like Gigafactory, but they need to have a combined output somewhere in that ballpark. And eventually, the market leaders will need to have one or two orders of magnitude more output (in GWh of batteries) than Gigafactory 1!

        1. SparkEV says:

          Cars take few years of development before production ramp up. In that time, LG and others could ramp up to meet the demand. Talking about “ramp up” as if it’ll happen overnight is nonsense.

          Same can be said of any other part that goes in a car. For example, silica suppliers (for glass) would need to get contract years in advance for “ramp up”. That’s how they’re able to meet the demand. There are not idle factories just waiting to fill overnight huge increase in demand, batteries or for anything else.

      3. SparkEV says:

        “Others are relying on LG Chem.”

        If you’re implying that relying on others is not as good as rolling your own, that simply isn’t the case. If it was, all auto makers would be making their own head lights, brakes, etc. etc. There’s lot more to EV than simple battery cells.

    4. TomArt says:

      Don’t forget wind – the solar panels were going to cover the roof, but there would be wind farms on the surrounding hills.

    5. tom says:

      Maybe that’s the question that all EV proponents who claim that EV’s will save the planet should be asking. Where will the batteries come from? And at what cost?

  6. Chris O says:

    Guess with a market cap that’s already at 2/3 that of mighty VW despite a tiny market share it was time for VW to reassure worried investors that Tesla has nothing on VW.

    Now there is just the small matter of actually delivering on the big talk and it’s a win for everybody.

  7. ronald says:

    Yeah they will, even if they have to lie about it to make it so!

    Here’s to hoping their overpriced, over engineered cars are replaced by a bunch of cheaper Chinese EV manufactures.

    Take Merkel and the rest of em down a peg or two!

    PS Don’t mention the war.

  8. CDAVIS says:

    Volkswagen Herbert Diess said: “…Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass.”
    —-

    It would be more accurate to say “Anything Tesla *has* done, we can in the future surpass.”

    1. TomArt says:

      😀

  9. Someone out there says:

    Tesla is going to give then a run for their money for sure but I think VW have a good chance to beat Tesla with their massive resources.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      This is a big potential market, with a lot of players. It’s not just a zero-sum game between Volkswagen and Tesla.

      Tesla and VW could wind up both being big winners in the EV revolution, both with large market shares when the new market settles out, which will likely take 20 years or so. Or both companies could fail to compete with newer players; both could go out of business.

      Disruptive tech revolutions are just that: Disruptive. We can’t tell who’s going to come out on top.

  10. I just wonder on what medication Mr. Herbert Diess might be to give statements that far away from reality.

  11. James says:

    They can do everything better. Which is why they had to cheat on diesel emissions. Guess they could not do better than what was required.

    Why wait, promise, pep talk. DO IT NOW not 2020 …

    I will never buy a car from them, exactly because of such big mouth idiots.

  12. It seems like the Model X has inspired at least as many competitors as the Model S. Which means the Model Y could be even more popular than the Model 3.

  13. Kdawg says:

    Talk is cheap. Where’s the affordable 200+ mile BEV from Audi?

    The more the merrier.

  14. ffbj says:

    Stier Sheist!

  15. Tore Rykkel says:

    Be my guest!

  16. silversod says:

    Why the wait! everything seems to be three/four years away! have you not been paying attention to whats going on in the real world!

  17. Lou Grinzo says:

    I think it’s sinking in that what Tesla is doing with the Gigafactory and the M3 poses an enormous threat to the legacy car makers. Tesla is openly talking about ramping up the volume of the M3 from about 260,000/year to double that shortly after it goes into production. Even if they start lower and ramp up slower to “only” 2/3 of that roughly 500,000 units/year, that’s still a huge disruption to the US car industry, and it will push other companies to compete with Tesla’s type of product and distribution model.

    Tesla is transitioning from a boutique car maker to mainstream one, and a lot of their competition will be panicking.

  18. floydboy says:

    (Drops mic, walks off) “Hey, shouldn’t you have said something BEFORE doing that?” (Looks back at microphone lying on floor) ….Oh.

    1. TomArt says:

      😀

    2. Mark.ca says:

      nice summary…

    1. speculawyer says:

      Yeah, Tesla is learning how to manufacture better…but VW has failed to proved that they can design any better.

  19. speculawyer says:

    BWAHAHAHAHA!

    The weaksauce plug-ins you have put out sure don’t show it, dieselgate clowns.

  20. James says:

    I could kick your butt…Oh yeah! YEAH!~

    And I could steal your girlfriend too – if I decide to…If I wanted to….yeah? YEAH!

    And I could if I stopped lying to governments and scheming how to get around environmental regulatins…Yeah….I could….

    And I could stop building hordes of concept cars and modern iterations of a VW van that we once sold with success in the 1960s…..Yeah, we could build those better than you too….If we ever decided to.

    SO THERE! –

    BE AFRAID – VW is coming for you, buddy!

    Well- by 2020 or 2025 or sometime… YEAH!

    1. Alaa says:

      And they could win the next nuclear war too.

    2. TomArt says:

      😀

  21. Nix says:

    If VW is so great, why didn’t they beat the Model S to market and deliver a competitor way back in 2011? Or 2012? 2013? 2014? 2015? 2016? 2017?

    It isn’t like the Tesla Model S was any secret. They announced it way back in 2008, even showing a prototype that VW could have copied if they think they could have done better.

    Their statement just makes them look like they have been asleep for a decade.

  22. JR says:

    VW has something to prove, they, just haven done it yet, and will not for some years to come, mabey it is just a signal to VW owners stay with you brand

  23. Brett says:

    VW is absolutely right. VW could completely be the prom queen if a proper dare were in place.

  24. Murrysville EV says:

    It’s not a question of whether VW can or will destroy Tesla, it’s a question of whether anyone will buy VW’s upcoming EVs in quantity.

    If VW’s newfound religion includes an EV-heavy product line, then they need competitive product in a hurry.

  25. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “We are confident that in this new world, we will become a market leader.”

    Attention all Volkswagen spokesmen: Dude, nobody believes your same ol’ same ol’ B.S. anymore.

    Shut up already. Just do it!

  26. orinoco says:

    Volkswagen: Behind is the new ahead. LOL 😉

  27. Brave Lil Toaster says:

    Well, far be it for me to stop you, VW.

    But um, I’m still waiting.

  28. Mister G says:

    HOGWASH VW

  29. Mark.ca says:

    VW, at least get the I.D. out and stop embarrassing yourself. It’s hard to lead when all you do is follow.

  30. Kuk says:

    Blah blah 2020 blah blah 500 km blah blah.

    Yes they can do it, but 10 years after Tesla :)))
    He he he

  31. bogdan says:

    In a stand up comedy, Mr. Diess can probably surpass Tesla.
    That’s the only thing he can do: making jokes, beeing the clown…

  32. Jason says:

    I’m pretty sure Tesla already said “anything you can do, we can do better” in relation to ALL ICE vehicles, then they made the Roadster to prove it. Then they made the Model S to prove it some more. Then they made the Model X, three in a row.
    Now they are set to make the Model 3 and prove it yet again in a mass market. Yeah, VW can state this about one single competitor, but Tesla already said, and done, it about every competitor. I’m sure VW and others will really make compelling EV’s at some point, but really Tesla is the ones that proved it could be done, not VW.

    1. TomArt says:

      Good point! +1

  33. Peter Wilkins says:

    Nissan-Renault is the global EV leader.

  34. SparkEV says:

    If the argument is that large resources available to big companies can do better, there’d be no small company innovations. Fact is, big companies don’t innovate as much as small companies, and they routinely buy up small companies.

    I’m sure VW can throw piles of money to make something “better” than Tesla, but that doesn’t mean they will be successful. Marketing, selling, on-going support of charging network is not like your gasser.

    As for “better”, if VW makes $100K EV with problems like Tesla, they would’ve been laughed out of the marketplace. Tesla hasn’t (and won’t). The pandora’s box of Tesla brand is out, VW cannot do better no matter how much money they throw at it.

    1. TomArt says:

      Agreed!

  35. LarsP says:

    It is only in the States thar dieselgate clings particularly to VW. The rest of the world knows that most other large auto manufacturers did the same thing…

  36. Peter says:

    I live in Europe. In spite of the diesel issues and all the flak VW took their sales results keep growing. I dont own an VW anymore, so dont know about build or long term reliability, I do know however that they are talking from both sides of their mouth. This morning it was announced the VW will invest 10Billion Euro in improving the design of the diesel engines. VW does not believe in electrification, its all bla bla. Yes they COULD be better than TESLA, but they wont be because they cant agree amongst themselves what to do next

  37. gh says:

    Volkswagen … i wonder what kind of cheat software their electric car will have. Or will they cheat by simply never making it. If you believe in dishonesty, yea, anything is possible.