3 min read

EXCLUSIVE: Herbert Diess was offered the CEO position of Tesla. What could have been?

Diess was offered Musk's job in 2015... by Musk himself.
A selfie with two that are among the most influential people in the world

Diess was offered Musk's job in 2015...

by Musk himself.

The current CEO of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess, has been a top executive for quite some time already. Starting in BMW in 1996, he moved up within the next 15+ years, becoming one of the biggest authorities in the automotive industry by the time he left BMW in 2014.

According to Business Insider (link in GER), Elon Musk and Diess had already met when he was working in BMW, and then again before joining Volkswagen in 2015. That's when Diess had an employment contract from Tesla in his hands, ready to be signed.

He said no.

He did reportedly take up a considerable amount of $TSLA shares though, which would be in a good spot now.

What could have been?

Both CEOs have publicly complimented each other and met up last year for test-driving ID.3, that's when the picture above is taken. Diess has been the strong force behind Volkswagen's electrification effort that has now finally seen breakthroughs, after years of building the electric momentum.

Diess has also been playing 'catch-up' with Tesla, being one of the few legacy CEOs that have acknowledged it honestly.

So let's say the history would have been different and Diess would have said YES to Tesla. Here are a few possible scenarios that might have happened in my eyes:

1. Both win: Since Diess is a rockstar really and Musk wouldn't have gone anywhere, working together with Diess, they would have made ~150% on Musk's regular output. That means extra brainpower and execution to the already-extra Tesla. Diess would have been at the head of the, well, what Tesla is today.

Or... not? A lot of what Tesla and Musk have achieved so far has been naturally limited by time/resources/production ramp factors, so would Tesla really be in a different spot than today? Would it have been humanly possible?

/ for the record, I don't think Musk would have stepped away from Tesla and leave Diess solely in charge.

2. Tesla & Legacy. One thing that Diess would have brought with him is the network of legacy automakers. Tesla was viewed largely as a novelty, something new, exciting, but nothing disruptive by legacy makers in 2015.

It's hard to remember today, while every carmaker is on an obvious EV path, that only 6-7 years ago most of them were sure EV's won't make it past the first charging station. So, Diess might have brought more legacy game to Tesla, OR he might have just been written off as he joined "the EV guys". Of course, they would have been wrong to do so.

3. Volkswagen? Diess took the reigns shortly after Dieselgate happened and turned the company around. The electrification through Electrify America charging networks would have still happened, because of the ruling. Would VW have stopped at that? Since Diess had been such a high driver of going EV, on several occasions conflicting with the traditional execs on the topic, would it have just continued the traditional route?

Surely some movement would be already happening like throughout the automotive industry, but I'd think it wouldn't be the kind-of-a-leader version of it that VW is today. Yes, I'm calling VW a leader of the EV route when it comes to traditional automakers.

So... sadly, or luckily, we will never know. I even think it's for the best because the EV sector won from these decisions. Tesla is a superpower in EVs and VW is becoming one too.

I'll start a post in our FB group (link) after launching this newsletter, feel free to weigh in on what you think might've happened if Diess became the CEO of Tesla in 2015.

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