Once discarded as a fad in the auto industry, some automakers are starting to be forced to take Tesla seriously, and Volkswagen is one of them.
VW CEO Herbert Diess defended Tesla in recent comments and said that they took the electric automaker seriously as a competitor.
During a press conference at the launch of the new Golf last week, some auto journalists said that Tesla is no more than a niche automaker.
Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess quibbled with reporters who suggested Tesla is in trouble because it’s too small.
Diess defended Tesla:
Tesla is not niche. The Model 3 is a large-series model and they are one of the biggest manufacturers of electric-car batteries.
Tesla has recently reached an annual production rate of almost 400,000 cars, and the average energy capacity in its vehicles is higher than any other automaker.
The VW CEO added that they are taking Tesla “very seriously”:
We have a lot of respect for Tesla. It’s a competitor we take very seriously.
Volkswagen is only now starting to get into all-electric vehicles in a major way through all its brands.
The new MEB platform is going to enable their first mass-production, long-range, all-electric vehicle programs, starting with the ID.3 hatchback next year.
VW has also previously been linked to Tesla as a potential partner in Elon Musk’s infamous attempt to bring the company private.
More recently, Diess himself was said to be pushing for VW to invest in Tesla, but the company denied the rumor.
I have been around quite a few auto journalists at those events at this point, and I’m always surprised by how many of them still don’t take EVs seriously. Some even think that Tesla is going to go away.
However, it’s rarely the case if they have driven Tesla cars. It’s hard to characterize Tesla as a fad after driving their cars and experiencing their power.
Good for Diess and VW.
Large automakers who want to get electric cars right should look at Tesla and recognize the many things they have done right.
I am starting to think that the rumors about Diess looking for a Tesla partnership were true.
Even if it doesn’t end up happening, I think it’s still good, because it means VW is looking at Tesla as a good template for electrification.
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