The autonomous driving world is about as incestous a place as Caligula's palace, and it got a little more so today, when Ford and Volkswagen announced a formal and long-anticipated alliance. "The alliance we are now building, starting from first formal agreement, will boost both partners' competitiveness in an era of rapid change," Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen, said on a call with reporters. He and Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the partnership--which is not a merger--will begin with the companies jointly developing and building medium-sized pickups and commercial vans, to debut as early as 2022. The automakers said the arrangement should "yield improved annual pre-tax operating results" by 2023. So hopefully, this makes everyone richer.
The unprecedented level of spending -- much of it by Germany's Volkswagen AG -- is driven in large measure by government policies adopted to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and will extend technological advances that have improved battery cost, range and charging time to make electric vehicles more appealing to consumers, according to an exclusive analysis of public data released by those companies. China for decades played catch-up to German, Japanese and American automakers, which dominated internal combustion vehicle technology. Now, China is positioned to lead EV development, industry executives say. "The future of Volkswagen will be decided in the Chinese market," said Herbert Diess, chief executive of VW, which has decades-old joint ventures with two of China's largest automakers, SAIC Motor and FAW Car. Speaking earlier this week to a small group of reporters in Beijing, Diess said China "will become one of the automotive powerhouses in the world."
Renewed talk of a merger between Volkswagen and electric vehicle maker Tesla that surfaced in earnest last year is again making news. Triggering the latest round of rumors about VW acquiring Tesla is a mysterious meeting last week between VW CEO Herbert Diess and Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk. Diess and Musk met for undisclosed reasons in Braunschweig, Germany, site of VW's auto parts factory. Musk was in Germany for three days last week for other business, but rumors of a potential VW-Tesla merger were refueled by Musk test-driving VW's new ID.3 EV for the first time. Diess tried to quell speculation by posting a video of the two executives driving an ID.3 on an airfield to his Linkedin page, along with a clarification about their meeting.
FRANKFURT, GERMANY – Volkswagen needs to make urgent changes to become more of a tech company as the industry enters the digital era, CEO Herbert Diess said Thursday, warning that the German car giant had just "one shot" at staying in the game. "The time of the classic car manufacturer is over," Diess said in a speech to senior executives, as the industry undergoes "radical transformation" to make cars greener and smarter than ever before. "Volkswagen's future lies in becoming a digital technology company," Diess said. He singled out U.S. tech firm and electric car pioneer Tesla as an example of the kind of fierce and unorthodox competition the company was up against. Diess's warning comes as the car industry is grappling with tough new EU emissions rules that came into force in 2020, pushing automakers to accelerate their costly switch to hybrid and electric cars.
Elon Musk has been receiving a lot of mail from Germany lately, with government ministers trying to flatter the tech entrepreneur in an effort to promote their states. Almost as soon as the Tesla CEO announced his intention to build a "Gigafactory" in Europe, German state governments began courting Musk like a horde of real estate agents eying a very solvent potential customer. "Lower Saxony," Bernd Althusmann (CDU), the economics minister of that state, wrote, "is one of the world's top regions in the automotive industry." He argued that "trans-European transport routes" cross through it and that the state is leading the way in terms of "electromobility, traffic telematics and autonomous driving." The minister, whose state is home to Volkswagen, said he would be pleased to explain all the advantages "in a personal conversation."