VW’s newish boss is going full-steam ahead with electric cars

“THE SUPERTANKER is picking up speed,” declared Herbert Diess, boss of Volkswagen (VW), presenting future plans to investors and the press on March 12th at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. A fast move by the giant carmaker into electric vehicles (EVs) will become quicker still, he vowed. His promise of 70 new electric models by 2028, rather than 50 as previously pledged, and 22m EVs delivered over the next ten years is the biggest commitment to battery power by any car company. Mr Diess is taking on the tough task of turning a supertanker around.

VW’s investors have long grumbled that its vast bulk has not delivered high profits or helped its share price. Mr Diess wants to raise both. Before the “dieselgate” emissions scandal the firm’s bosses bet on scale. VW made nearly 11m vehicles last year. Putting growth before profits also suited its mighty unions, for which preserving jobs is paramount. As a result, VW disproportionately relies on its two premium brands, Audi and Porsche, for earnings. Productivity at its mass-market brands is woeful, and that in a segment where margins are anyway slender.

Any attempt to change the balance has met with stiff resistance. Workers occupy half the seats on the firm’s supervisory board and can usually count on the state of Lower Saxony, which owns 12% of VW, to back them. The...



via Business Feeds

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