What Happened: Diess said that he highly regards what Musk is doing.
“I think he’s a brilliant guy. And he really makes a difference. He’s changing the world with his ventures.”
The Volkswagen CEO appreciated Musk’s long-term vision but acknowledged that he was fundamentally different.
“He’s thinking far. And he’s [a] brilliant guy. But we are quite different. He is very focused on Tesla, on his story. I’m running a big traditional company, which we try to prepare for the future,” said Diess, as per CNN.
“I think we also require different characters. I like him a lot, but I think we are quite different.”
Why It Matters: Diess revealed in the interview that internal combustion engine vehicles will still occupy a place in Volkswagen’s strategy as in some parts of the world they are still needed, reported CNN.
“We don’t want to pull back, for instance, from Latin America, where electric cars will probably not be the solution for climate change. In Latin America, the natural way forward is to use biofuels which are CO2 neutral,” said Diess.
The auto executive revealed that Volkswagen’s first autonomous fleets will come to the market in 2025 and the first private cars driving autonomous are expected the same year or in 2026.
Diess acknowledged the role of robotaxis in the future but also said private cars are going to be shared and there’s potential for growth.
On the ongoing semiconductor supply crunch, Diess said it was getting worse. He said Volkswagen’s suppliers, based in Malaysia, have been grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak at three plants.
Diess laughed off a question related to him being asked to lead Tesla by Musk.
In April, Business Insider reported that Diess had a Tesla contract in his hands, but no explanation was given why Diess did not take up the position as Tesla CEO.
Diess has said in the past that Volkswagen was going to be in a race with Tesla.