“Anything Tesla Can Do, We Can Surpass,” Says Volkswagen Chief

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s brand chief, told reporters recently he believes his company can beat Tesla when it comes to selling medium priced electric cars. “Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,” Diess said in Germany at a press conference according to the Financial Times. “[Tesla] is a competitor we take seriously,” Diess said. “Tesla comes from a high priced segment, however they are moving [to less expensive cars]. It is our ambition, with our new architecture, to stop them there, to rein them in.”

Volkswagen ID Concept

Diess said Volkswagen has set a goal of selling 1 million electric cars a year by 2025. By contrast, Tesla’s Elon Musk says his company will get to that level of sales 5 years earlier. One advantage Diess believes the Wolfsburg based company has is its MEB chassis platform, which will be adaptable to many different body styles. Having a common platform greatly lowers production costs. So far, it has used that chassis to make three concept cars, the ID, the ID Budd-E, and the ID Crozz.

Interestingly enough, Tesla is not following the common chassis model. With SUVs being the hottest segment of the new car market worldwide. it says its upcoming midsize SUV — the Model Y — will be built on a separate platform, giving Tesla a total of four separate chassis for four separate cars. The Model X with its falcon wing doors was supposed to be based on the Model S chassis, but as that car moved toward production, it became essentially a separate vehicle with 80% new parts.

Why is Tesla bucking the trend? Elon says his company is making great progress in making manufacturing more efficient. The production line for the Model Y will be an order of magnitude more efficient than the line just now being installed to make the Model 3, so any loss incurred by using a separate chassis will be more than made up for by gains in productivity.

Musk intends nothing less than the total disruption of global manufacturing at the same time as he is turning the auto industry on its head. creating a global satellite network, sending shockwaves through the space exploration business, implanting neuro-transmitters into people’s brains, and boring tunnels under continents.

Volkswagen recently reclaimed its crown as the world’s largest automaker in terms of the number of cars sold, so it is clearly a force to be reckoned with. But Musk has a much broader focus than just cars. It will be interesting to look back in ten years to see whose vision of the future comes closest to reality.

Source: CNET Road Show

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.