Volkswagen of America CEO Challenges Tesla for Top Spot

by David Mowatt
Volkswagen of America

During a roundtable interview at the Detroit auto show, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh spoke extensively about Volkswagen’s future plans for electrification, as well as their desire to compete head-to-head with Tesla in the North American market.

It’s no secret that Volkswagen took a massive hit to their reputation following the infamous Dieselgate scandal of 2015. Since then, the German automaker has struggled to garner the favor of the general public despite their continuous attempts at redemption. Keogh was quick to describe the scandal as “the ultimate betrayal” in his most recent interview, but asserted that his main goal was to redeem Volkswagen in the eyes of the American population, as he believes the American consumer will play a pivotal role in the future success of the company.

Keogh explained:

“Making Volkswagen matter is a North America strategy. We have 20 points of share in China and 15 points in Europe. We have 2 points here. 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.”

When questioned about Volkswagen of America missing their mark of 800,000 U.S. sales for 2018, Keogh responded:

“When you want to be a volume brand, it leads to behavior where you are like everyone else. You need to have a proposition that is unique to the brand. You have to meet the market opportunity. We have the best success when we have brand relevance. Jetta fits, Golf R and GTI fit there, our philosophies fit there. EVs will fit there. And EVs are not as big as SUVs, but you don’t want to be 10 or 20 years too late, because catching up is a bitch.”

When asked directly about Volkswagen’s electrification plans, Keogh pointed out Tesla as one of their main competitors, stating:

“We are arriving with a proper VW at a VW price, at a time when market sentiment and reaction and consumer sentiment is building. We’re at equal footing. We have scale advantage. It won’t just be the one product. It will be a host of products. We have a good cadence. 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.”

To Keogh, Volkswagen is capable of taking 50 percent of the market share to compete with Tesla, but we can’t really say we have that much faith in the automaker at this current moment. While it’s clear that Volkswagen intends to tackle the American electric vehicle market head-on considering their recent $800 million investment in their Chattanooga factory, it’s going to take more than a few factories to compete with Tesla’s ever growing presence in the U.S. Since Dieselgate, the German automaker has been quick to make large, sweeping promises for electrification, and while we hope they manage to succeed, we have yet to see any reason to truly believe their admittedly hollow claims.

Source: Motor Trend

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