"The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones needed the Beatles."
As California-based EV manufacturer Tesla remains the undisputed leader in the electric vehicle segment globally, the press seems helplessly drawn to framing each new EV introduction from one of the legacy automakers as an uphill battle. Each one is inevitably compared to something from the Tesla model range, and only Tesla has the brand cachet and experience necessary to scoop up whatever niche segment is at stake - or so the narrative goes.
But Scott Keogh, President and CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America, prefers not to put things in such adversarial terms, saying that really, Volkswagen and Tesla "need each other."
"Tesla and Volkswagen, on the big picture, both want the exact same thing: we don't want to noodle around interchanging vehicles at 250,000 units," Keogh said Wednesday. "We want to drive adoption of the mainstream market."
The comments came as Keogh and a handful of other Volkswagen executives spoke to members of the press shortly after the reveal of the new US-market Volkswagen ID.4. Comparisons with the attainably priced Tesla Model Y are unavoidable, but Volkswagen is confident that consumers will respond to the ID.4's lower price point.
"The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones needed the Beatles. They made rock n' roll better," Keogh continued. "Tesla needs Volkswagen. Volkswagen needs Tesla. It's gonna make electrification better: more adoption, more cars on the road, more people talking, more purchase confirmation. It's beautiful."
Keogh was later asked what the reaction was like at Volkswagen after the reveal, and he shared that he witnessed a few comments to the effect of "rest in peace, Tesla."
"I'm not sure I agree with that, but okay."
Volkswagen is confident that it got things right with the new ID.4. "We've got a car that's frankly awesome and priced right, and we're excited," Keogh said, calling the ID.4 "just cool as heck" with its silent operation and satisfying drive. "It moves like a spaceship," he said.
The RWD ID.4 Pro launch model will start at $39,995 in the US this spring before any incentives or federal tax rebate are applied, and an AWD version with the same 82-kWh battery pack will launch later in 2021 at $43,695. The following year, Volkswagen plans to introduce a budget version priced at around $35k with a smaller 55- or 62-kWh battery pack.