Final 7 days, the electric mobility bubble and German car marketplace ended up shocked by breaking information: Herbert Diess, the “Elon Musk of VW,” was “fired” by the supervisory board.
The gloating of the commentators
The feedback on the conclude of the Diess period have been controversial, and on equilibrium extremely adverse about Diess. For instance, the editor-in-main of “Automobilwoche” claimed, amongst other points: “He got on a lot of people’s nerves with his slapdash rhetoric and his closeness to sector upstart Elon Musk. He helps make a nuisance of himself. His supporters, on the other hand, see him as a visionary.”
It ought to be mentioned that “visionary” tends to have a detrimental connotation in Germany. This was reflected by the bon mot of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt: “If you have visions, you need to go to the physician.”
The German way
In Germany, there is a phenomenon exclusive in the entire world. Persons like to gang up on all those deemed unsuccessful, or who dare to split out of the mainstream and fall short in the course of action. This also happened to Herbert Diess.
Diess is not and hardly ever has been a diplomat (nor was Ferdinand Piëch in his day, by the way). But which is just what finally value him his job. In the stop, his gruff manner and lack of social intelligence were being not conducive to his connection with the Pïech and Porsche families, unions or politicians.
A comparison with Elon Musk?
The comparison with Elon Musk is also misleading. Because of the supervisory board, a German CEO is not able to behave like his U.S. counterpart, who can not be stopped by anyone. As is effectively regarded, a considerable share of VW belongs to the Pïech and Porsche households.
But political pitfalls are also a daily fact in Germany. You have to offer with persons like Stephan Weil, the largely technically clueless Prime Minister of the condition of Lower Saxony (which is a shareholder in VW, ed.), and trade unionists who like to shoot them selves in the foot just to be right and conjure up “the great aged times.”
Swift transformation seems hopeless in Germany
Only the foreseeable future will present no matter whether the transformation to electromobility truly is “without an alternative,” even however all signals currently point to this. With his conclusion to go all in on the electric powered vehicle, Diess has at minimum taken the world’s 2nd-premier OEM tanker in the ideal course. But the contrasting frame of mind of his successor and Porsche CEO, Oliver Blume, is unlikely to be certain that the corporation will promptly catch up with the digital age. The deficits at VW are also good for that.
Digitization proves challenging
CARIAD, the much-vaunted electronic job force, has so significantly proved to be a toothless tiger. Its reshuffling (and renaming) due to the fact 2019 demonstrates 1 detail above all: automakers really do not comprehend how to establish software. Additional doesn’t imply better. And there are much far too number of digital luminaries in the German automotive field. When they do exist, they migrate to areas the place their strategies slide on far more fertile floor. In any scenario, the German “sheet metallic benders” are however a prolonged way from indicating goodbye to the strategy of the inside combustion motor.
China company and infotainment
Directly connected to this is the lackluster enterprise in China. The Chinese are so a lot even further in advance digitally that the infotainment procedure of VW’s ID e-car appears to be like a throwback to the very last decade. Anyone acquainted with the units from NIO, XPENG, and BYD will not be inclined to just take a step backward.
Can the Porsche CEO repair it? It’s difficult to say. His features lie not in the digital realm but in eFuels, for illustration. They will barely be capable to go the needle in Europe – simply since of the “market” – and will are unsuccessful due to area electrical power fees and vitality shortages. And they won’t even enjoy a role in China for the time becoming. That’s stunning, particularly since Blume gained his doctorate at the renowned Tongji College in Shanghai in 2001.
So was Diess’ departure fantastic or negative?
For him, it is not specifically what you’d phone tough. All he has to do is get up, straighten his tie, and receive an additional €30 million with a golden handshake in the type of a consulting agreement until 2025.
VW has carried out by itself a disservice with Diess’ dismissal. In China, Korea and at Stellantis, the champagne corks have to have been popping last 7 days, simply because the transformation difficulties just acquired even larger for VW.
About this column:
In a weekly column penned alternately by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Katleen Gabriels, PG Kroeger, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the long term will seem like. These columnists, occasionally joined by guest bloggers, are all functioning in their possess way to locate answers to the challenges of our time. You can locate past installments below.