Major industry changes are happening.
Volkswagen has been doing some incredible things since the dust began to settle from the Dieselgate scandal. Not only has it undergone a major overhaul at the executive level, but has shifted focus from combustion-engined vehicles to battery electrics. The VW ID.4 all-electric crossover, for example, will soon go on sale in the US while the similar ID.3 hatchback has already hit European roads. Many more electric vehicles from VW and its numerous brands are coming very soon, but the German automaker can't claim total victory just yet. The industry continues to rapidly change and VW must adapt and do so quickly. Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess knows this better than anyone.
Speaking recently to Bloomberg, Diess compared what could happen to VW if it doesn't keep pace with technological change to, of all companies, Nokia, the Finnish telecommunications corporation.
"Nokia is probably a good example of how such a change can happen-if you're not fast enough, you're not going to survive," Diess said. "I'm always telling our people this example."
Not so many years ago, Nokia was one of the world's top-selling mobile phone sellers, but it made a major miscalculation regarding the rise of the smartphone. Instead, Apple, Samsung, and Motorola, to name a few, have come to dominate the smartphone market while Nokia has been left behind. That's not the scenario VW wants to find itself in. Take its position against Tesla, for example. While Tesla has, for now, become the EV world leader, Diess still believes "the battle for market leadership… is still open."
That could largely depend on VW's ability to catch up to Tesla in the software side of things. Diess further acknowledged Elon Musk's software background as a huge plus for Tesla. "We also have a few advantages over Tesla. If you drive a Porsche Taycan or [Audi] e-Tron, you get a different product substance, you get really premium quality. We want to compete with Tesla and try to get close to and, in some areas, probably overtake."
But software development remains a must, and Diess is sparing no expense to ensure VW continues this track. VW isn't the only automaker to step up its EV and related technology advances. Just last week, GM announced plans to accelerate EV product development. Tesla has changed this industry and VW, like its rivals, can't allow itself to become the Nokia of automakers.