Bloomberg Intelligence thinks that Volkswagen could sell more electric vehicles (EVs) than Tesla by 2024, but that even if this does happen, Tesla will still be a key leader in the industry.
Volkswagen has been saying this for a while now, and one thing that is for sure is that both companies will be key leaders in the global EV space for quite some time. VW and Tesla seem to have a friendly rivalry going on. The two CEOs have even expressed admiration for each other.
In 2021, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess included Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a company meeting with 200 of VW’s top managers. Although Tesla is focused on sustainability, its leadership challenged the entire auto industry over the past few years to step back, reinvent the car, and try to catch up. A few auto company CEOs have even said as much. VW seems to be the only automaker that isn’t just up to that challenge, but that is playing the role of a key ally to Tesla’s mission despite media headlines pitting the two companies against one another.
Unfortunately for the US, the two markets that will be most important for deciding leadership in the EV space are China and Europe. Here in the US, we don’t have strong enough policies requiring automakers to sell more EVs.
Volkswagen currently lags behind Tesla in China in terms of EV sales. CNN, which reported on the Bloomberg Intelligence news, noted that Tesla accounted for 13% of EV sales in China last year, which was a tie with China’s own BYD but behind Wuling, which accounted for 16% of all EVs in China. For a much more detailed and unmatched look at EV sales in China, see our monthly China EV sales reports.
I think that Volkswagen, a legacy automaker that was once involved in Dieselgate, did well to hire a CEO who is open to not only manufacturing EVs but is open-minded enough to cross the lines of competition and include Tesla, a company that many said would fail, as a serious challenge and leader of the industry. Other automakers could stand to learn a thing or two from VW and Tesla’s friendship, for lack of better terms.
Instead of pretending to be a leader while producing very few EVs, or starting drama with Tesla owners on Twitter as some American automakers currently do, the best move is to focus on manufacturing EVs and advancing sustainability along with profits.
Is Bloomberg Right? Will Volkswagen Overtake Tesla In EV Sales By 2024?
I don’t have a crystal ball — well, actually, I have several, but I don’t use them for fortune-telling. However, let’s look at a few things while thinking about the Bloomberg Intelligence forecast.
VW is a legacy automaker. It is established, and as I’ve said before, these automakers have had the opportunity to make EVs for ages. It took Tesla, a newcomer, to come and go through manufacturing hell to get the industry to where it is today. Will a legacy automaker overtake it?
Whether or not Bloomberg Intelligence is right, VW overtaking Tesla isn’t the issue here. Tesla is here to stay. As Elon Musk said in a recent interview with Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley, “Tesla’s fundamental value is to serve as an accelerant to sustainable energy.”
This means that Tesla has different goals from the legacy automakers, including VW. Tesla’s main goal is sustainability. However, its success isn’t because Tesla sells EVs alone. Tesla’s success is a result of something Tesla has that no one else, even VW, has. Tesla has something so compelling that people are willing to pay a higher price for a Tesla EV than whatever the competition has to offer. Elon Musk said, “In order to charge a lot more and have people actually buy it, the product must be so, so compelling that people are willing to pay the premium above the alternative cars from the incumbent carmakers.” In short, Tesla has better tech.
If VW does overtake Tesla in EV sales in 2024, this won’t hurt Tesla as much as critics would hope. Tesla’s legacy will impact the market for at least the next 50 to 100 years. For Tesla to go the way of Nokia and Blackberry, another company — be it VW or a brand new one — would have to create something that would top what Tesla is creating.
If we look at phones, it was the iPhone that set the precedent for mobile phones. I know very few people who still have flip phones. And going back to a flip phone from an iPhone is hard. This is what Tesla has done for the auto industry. And it continues to innovate at a fast pace.
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