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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Volkswagen is no. 2 in electric vehicles

(Credit: Herbert Diess/LinkedIn)

Elon Musk said Volkswagen was the company making the most progress on electric vehicles following his automaker, Tesla, after being asked which startups impressed him the most during an interview with Financial Times.

Interestingly, the question did not ask Musk which car company was most impressive or was making the most progress, it actually asked the Tesla CEO which startup was doing the best.

Musk failed to recognize any company based in the United States as a startup making the most progress on the electric vehicle front. Instead, Musk stated Volkswagen was doing the best with its electric vehicle program, but also recognized that there “will be some very strong companies” emerging from the Chinese market.

Musk said during the interview:

“Well, I think the company the most progress besides Tesla is actually VW, which is not a startup but could be viewed in some ways as a startup from an electric vehicle standpoint. So, VW is doing the most on the electric vehicle front. I think there will be some very strong companies coming out of China. There’s just a lot of super talented, hard-working people in China, who strongly believe in manufacturing. They won’t just be burning the midnight oil, they’ll be burning the 3 am oil. They won’t even leave the factory type-of-thing, whereas, in America, people are trying to avoid going to work at all.”

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Interestingly, Musk did not mention either Rivian or Lucid, two of the United States’ most recognizable names in EV startups. The companies are arguably making the most progress of any EV startups in the country, especially when compared to the tumultuous roads of both Nikola and Lordstown. While Swedish company Polestar is also beginning to successfully expand its product line into more regions, it appeared that Musk was unwilling to tip his cap to these companies, but it may not mean they aren’t impressing him in some aspects.

Tesla has battled with Rivian in the courtroom, and Musk and Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson are former co-workers. Musk has been critical of Rawlinson’s tenure at Tesla, and Rawlinson has even responded with his own ideas regarding the situation. However, Musk has also offered advice to these rivals in the past, attempting to potentially save them from traveling the tough path Tesla was forced to follow when paving the way for other car companies.

Meanwhile, Musk has shared somewhat of a friendship with Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess. The two have shared a few quirky photos together and even given each other test drives of their respective company’s best EVs. Volkswagen struggled with software early on when it released the ID.3. However, the German company has effectively sold out of EVs in 2022, and across its brands, it sold the most EVs in Europe in 2021.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Volkswagen is no. 2 in electric vehicles
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