Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Volkswagen Auto Group CEO Herbert Diess answered questions jointly regarding the future of electric vehicles in Germany during the 2019 Golden Steering Wheel Awards in Berlin. The two CEOs gave each other numerous words of wisdom as they both work toward a future involving sustainable transportation.
Musk flew to Berlin on November 12 to accept a prestigious Golden Steering Wheel Award won by the Tesla Model 3. This award comes on the heels of Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot receiving top honors from Germany’s Connected Cars Innovation. After accepting the award for the company’s most affordable sedan, Musk was joined by Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess on stage, where both CEOs were asked about if they were inspired by one another. “First of all, I really wanted to congratulate you, great achievement, I know all of this competition here in Germany, this award, its a great achievement. We know each other, we don’t meet so often though. I would say that we share a vision, which is that we only can achieve the CO2 targets and reduce carbon emissions through electric cars,” Diess said.
An interesting quote from Diess, as the Volkswagen CEO was under fire for the company’s “Dieselgate” emissions scandal where the German automaker was caught placing emissions cheat devices in its vehicles. Although Diess joined VW after the scandal began, he was under intense scrutiny from some German government agencies for stock manipulation. Since the beginning of the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen has paid around $33 billion in penalties. The company is attempting to put the scandal behind them and move onto battery-powered cars. Diess announced the Volkswagen ID.3 electric-car on September 9, the company’s first attempt at a non-gasoline powered vehicle.
Despite the allegations against Diess, he has received kind words from Musk, who stated on Twitter “Herbert Diess is doing more than any big carmaker to go electric. The good of the world should come first. For what it’s worth, he has my support.” Musk offered his two cents following the announcement that VW would begin producing its own lithium-ion batteries in an attempt to transition to the mass-production of electric vehicles in the future.
Musk was then asked why Germany was so far behind on the electric vehicle revolution. “Well, first of all, I don’t think Germany is that far behind. But I always think it’s difficult when, you know, there’s a lot of momentum around in all technology. There is a lot of infrastructure, a lot of capital and that kind of thing that is tied up in all the technology,” Musk said. “When you have new technology, the market is unproven. So then, you say ‘Does it really make sense to place a bet on this technology that is unproven?’ And when we started out at Tesla, everyone thought we were huge fools. I thought we were fools too, frankly. But I thought it was important to get to ultimately a sustainable energy future,” he added.
Diess and Musk were sure to trade compliments during the question and answer session, noting the motivation they give each other toward the mission of creating environmentally-friendly and sustainable transportation. “I thank you for pioneering, for pulling us, for pushing us. I think really Elon is the innovator, which is driving us along. So it’s worthwhile to talk about batteries and the right concepts, and I always enjoy talking to you because, he’s really a visionary,” Diess said about the Tesla CEO.
Elon Musk has always said that Tesla’s competitors are not those companies who are also making electric cars, but the companies working toward keeping petrol-based vehicles as the primary source of transportation in the world. Musk and Diess working together toward the ultimate goal of sustainability shows the future of electric cars depends on working together and recognizing the only way to achieve the goal of environmental-sustainability and longevity is to develop the technology together. With Volkswagen ultimately deciding to invest $33 billion into the future of electric vehicles, the German-based company evidently wants to put their emissions scandal behind them, and it seems they have support from the frontman of the electric vehicle movement.
You can watch the entire Golden Steering Wheel Awards ceremony below: