Global Economy

Elon Musk joins VW executive conference as ‘surprise guest’

Elon Musk made a surprise appearance at a Volkswagen AG conference, addressing 200 executives of one of his biggest competitors about the German company’s pivot to electric vehicles, his management style, and supply chain and production issues.

In a rare move by a corporate titan addressing a competitor, Tesla Inc.’s chief executive officer spoke in the video conference at the invitation of Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, and even said he’s sure the German automotive icon will master the move to electric vehicles.

Under Diess, Volkswagen is seeking to become one of the world’s biggest makers of electric vehicles, and pitted its largest plant against the Tesla factory that’s under construction near Berlin. He urged his managers at the conference to make that transformation as soon as possible.

Elon Musk told the group that Tesla is more agile than other automakers because of his management style where he’s first and foremost an engineer, and that he’s fascinated by supply chains, logistics and production processes.

Diess said Tesla’s handling of the global chip shortage was “impressive” as it was able to switch to different chips within just two to three weeks using a software it developed.

“We need a new mindset at Volkswagen AG to take on the new competition,” Diess said in a Linkedin post. “Happy to hear that even our strongest competitor thinks that we will succeed the transition if we drive the transformation with full power.”


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