Volkswagen Auto Group CEO Herbert Diess and a Supervisory Board were unable to meet terms that would solidify Diess’ future at the automaker, reports from Germany indicate.
Diess has been on the hot seat at Volkswagen for several months following his vocalization of plans to cut 30,000 or more jobs from the German company’s employment population. Diess warned Volkswagen during an internal meeting that failure to accelerate the company’s transition to electric vehicles could cost some jobs, especially as the automaker continues to lag behind industry leader Tesla.
Diess and the Supervisory Board, which is comprised of prominent members of Volkswagen and other brands, as well as representatives from large shareholder groups, were unable to come to terms that would extend Diess’ term as VW AG CEO. Handelsblatt writes (paywalled):
“After intensive discussions, the leading supervisory board members from the Porsche and Piëch families, the state of Lower Saxony and the employee representatives were unable to agree on a compromise on the future of the 63-year-old.”
Volkswagen is arguably the world’s most committed and established automaker to the electric vehicle movement. Volkswagen is one of the only well-known, global, mass-market automotive brands to embrace the EV transition with such fervor, and this may have something to do with the tension between Diess and the board. Diess has primarily been the main reason for the accelerated transition, which has solidified Volkswagen as one of the more popular EV brands that came from ICE production. Diess is set on keeping up with Tesla by any means necessary, and losing time and falling further behind Elon Musk’s company is something Diess has warned VW executives about. Speaking of time, “It is precious,” Diess said in the Supervisory Board meeting, according to sources.
Stephan Weil, a member of the Supervisory Board and leader of the Social Democratic Party in Lower Saxony, gave Diess words of approval during his presentation. However, he is not totally on board with Diess’ strategy, calling it “styleless.” Head of the Works Council, Daniela Cavallo, supported Weil’s analysis of Diess’ job performance.
The Board’s discontent with Diess seems to lie on “a lack of strategy of how he wants to develop the Group,” the report from Handelsblatt continues. Unfortunately, Diess’ emphasis on EVs has led to widespread support from other electric car companies, including Tesla, whose CEO Musk has accumulated the respect of Diess in an evident friendship. It appears Diess may not continue at VW if the Supervisory Board meeting has anything to do with it.
Volkswagen recently reported EV delivery totals in Q3 2021 that doubled the same period in 2020, led by the ID.4 all-electric crossover.