‘Das Auto’ goes electric as VW takes on Tesla

Frankfurt, March 22 (AFP/APP): When Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess joined Twitter in January, he used his first tweet to warn pioneering electric car maker Elon Musk that he was coming after him.

The bold proclamation raised some eyebrows, coming from a carmaker better known for its 2015 “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal than its green credentials. But all that has changed since the German group announced an offensive to dominate the electric car market globally by 2025, vowing to set up six battery factories in Europe by the end of the decade.

“Volkswagen is the new Tesla,” declared the Financial Times, referring to the now dominant Californian e-car group founded by billionaire maverick entrepreneur Musk in 2003. “Our transformation will be fast, unprecedented and on a scale not seen in the automobile industry in a century,” Diess said at VW’s inaugural “Power Day” last Monday, where he fired off a flurry of announcements. Industry watchers say it’s a credible bet.

Bloomberg Intelligence auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida said Volkswagen “has (the) potential to overtake Tesla’s number one position… in a few years”. Karl Brauer, an analyst with CarExpert.com, said VW’s “combination of financial resources and manufacturing capacity make it a prime challenger for Tesla’s dominance” — even if catching up with its US rival is “not going to be easy”.

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