Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess literally goes full throttle when he appears in front of the employees at the works meeting in Hall 11 of the Wolfsburg main plant on Tuesday morning. Daniela Cavallo, Chairwoman of the General Works Council, just read him the riot act in a long speech. Now it’s Diess’ turn – and smashes sentences into the hall that are bursting with power. About his close friend Elon Musk and his company Tesla, which the VW boss sees as a role model but which is currently weakening: “Elon has to start up two highly complex factories in Austin and Grünheide at the same time – and expand production in Shanghai,” he calls out. That will cost strength, and “Elon” itself says that the factories are currently burning money. Volkswagen must seize this opportunity and reduce the gap to its arch-rival in e-mobility. “In 2025 we can take the lead.”
Most recently, Diess, 63 years old, caused a stir with many difficulties. He now clearly wants to use the VW works meeting, which has always been a place for exchanges of blows and pithy statements, to go on the offensive. Problems with the software, discussions about China, e-mobility: Everything under control, everything on track is his message. “We’re earning more than ever – despite the lack of semiconductors and stagnant supply chains.” The end of diesel and gasoline engines planned by the EU in 2035 could come, VW is prepared to convert its plants – one of the few points in which it is involved agrees with Cavallo in the morning. This had previously castigated the resistance of the governing party FDP against a combustion ban in Europe as wrong. “This train has long since left! Politically, socially and in our corporate strategy,” she said, according to the speech transcript.