You know all the crap I give Volkswagen and its electrification ineptitude? Well group CEO Herbert Diess layed all the cards on the boardroom table and stopped just short of saying “that opinionated guy in South Africa has a good point.” Victory is mine, kind of.
To be fair, the words that came out of his mouth were more along the lines of “This is probably the most difficult challenge Volkswagen has ever faced.” Remember that this is a car company that was started by a Nazi labour union, with substantial funding from the Third Reich, that had its factory bombed to the extent where post war production lines had to stop when it rained because there were no windows and only half a roof. And this is what the CEO is describing as its most difficult challenge.
It’s also quite interesting that VW’s admission of future challenges comes at a time when subsidiary Porsche is killing off the flat-four engine it revived for the the Boxter and Cayman – a spiritual descendent of the original Beetle engine. But I digress.
The plan is to increase profits and accelerate research and development of connected, autonomous and electric cars. Specifically battery electric, with the manufacturer slashing its development budget for fuel cell vehicles almost in half. Oh, and the market value is expected to double to around $200-billion.
Buying a battery maker is the first step to true competitiveness. Tesla shares its Gigafactory premisis with Panasonic and owns Maxwell. The new Maxwell dry electrode batteries will be at the heart of the upcoming Model Y and Cybertruck. Cybertruck is also debuting the exoskeleton production technique which eliminates much of the welding and stamping costs associated with traditional car manufacturing.
Diess is certainly prophetic in his summation that the “era of the classic carmakers is over.” Although his idea of VW becoming the Nokia of the auto industry without serious change to its business is a bit misguided. I think VW is in danger of becoming the BlackBerry of the auto industry, with the Golf and Polo going the way of the Bold and Curve (please ask your parents about BlackBerry).
Just please, no more concept cars and a lot more actual production? See how well it worked out with the Taycan (ignoring the blatant lies about the range). Thank you, more please.