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VW Boss opens up about Tesla, EVs, and the fallout from Dieselgate
Posted on January 27, 2019 by Matt Pressman
Volkswagen has a history of sending mixed messages when it comes to EV strategy, competition from Tesla, and the company's murky ties to diesel. Motor Trend recently sat down with Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh to get his feedback on a number of issues facing the automaker.
Above: Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh (Image: Fortitude)
Keogh calls Dieselgate, "the ultimate betrayal." He admits, "we made VW un-matter to people. When companies get into crisis mode, they climb into a bunker, and they lose their mojo." In response, Keogh says VW recently changed their advertising agency.
Moving forward, Keogh says, "We're going to operate as a company that matters and is ethical, and we're moving into EVs, and hopefully we'll get that redemption. Our German uniqueness and quirkiness, depending on its application, is 100 percent good and necessary because it's a distinguishing factor."
Above: VW's EV charging network, Electrify America, just had to shut down all its 150-350 kW fast chargers over a safety issue (Source: InsideEVs)
When asked, specifically, about VW's electrification strategy, Keogh remarks, "We are arriving with a proper VW at a VW price, at a time when market sentiment and reaction and consumer sentiment is building." Nevertheless, as head of North America for Volkswagen, Keogh sees the real opportunity for electric cars in China.
"There is no debate China will be the explosive EV market. And they need a lot of EVs due to congestion, smog, and autonomy. They missed 20th century auto. They want to win 'new auto'—EV, autonomous, connected," says Keogh. He adds that China's EV policies help, "Sometimes policy needs to give innovation a leg up... When you have policies, and particularly (China's) policies, it can stimulate consumers to follow those policies."
Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Flickr: Marcus Zacher)
What about Tesla? Keogh says, "Right now market share is 50 percent Tesla and 50 percent everyone else. Who is going to win the other 50 percent? That breakthrough product has not arrived yet."
Source: Motor Trend