Tech & Science Volkswagen: Urgent questions to Diess

23:52  28 may  2020
23:52  28 may  2020 Source:   sueddeutsche.de

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Die Schutzmaske wird VW-Chef Herbert Diess bei der Aufsichtsratsitzung wenig helfen. © Getty Images The protective mask will not help VW CEO Herbert Diess at the Supervisory Board meeting.

The VW boss is under massive pressure. The afternoon supervisory board meeting could be very uncomfortable for him.

Urgent questions to Diess

Great excitement at Volkswagen. Before the afternoon meeting of the supervisory board, there were rumors that the powerful company chief Bernd Osterloh had allied himself with IG Metall and was planning to push the chief executive Herbert Diess out of office. Osterloh denied this before the meeting even started. But it is clear that the VW boss will have to put up with a few damn hard questions. This session is really uncomfortable for him.

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Finally, VW again made many headlines about the diesel affair - the Federal Court of Justice sentenced the group to pay damages, the group also bought its two most important managers, chief executive Diess and supervisory board boss Pötsch, from the investigations surrounding the allegation of market manipulation. That brought a lot of criticism to VW. But the problems with its two most important cars are far worse than the image damage that still arises from the whole diesel case: There are massive problems with both the Golf VIII and the electric car ID.3. And unlike the Diesel case, these two cars are clearly the responsibility of the CEO of Diess.

The delivery of the Golf VIII had to be stopped last because the automatic emergency call does not work. This is not a blemish, but a safety-relevant problem: the emergency call function is mandatory for new cars.

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The situation with the prestige object ID.3 is even worse. The software for the cars is extremely unreliable, most recently it was heard from the corporate environment, the ID.3 is currently failing due to the simplest of tasks, and the operating system is not even starting reliably. Volkswagen has already admitted the problems: The ID.3 will initially only come on the market in a stripped-down software version, it said. The original goal to compete with the electrical pioneer Tesla? Unreachable far away.

Against this background, skepticism towards CEO Diess is growing not only at the works council. He was appointed successor to the quickly failed Matthias Müller as CEO in April 2018, but before that he had headed the core brand VW for almost three years. The two most important cars have therefore been his area of ​​responsibility for five years. And they don't run, both of them.

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The central figure is the works council boss Osterloh, the secret ruler of the VW group

The representatives of the owner families on the supervisory board are still on Diess, it says in the group environment. But you have "pressing questions". In fact, there is a lot to be said against an immediate replacement of the CEO: When the last boss changed, it took half a year for the group to be fully operational again, says one from the group. VW cannot afford that in the middle of the corona crisis. In addition, Diess would be the second short-term boss after the unfortunate acting Müller with a quick layoff. This would raise the question of whether it is really always up to the CEOs or whether the shop in Wolfsburg is simply ungovernable.

The central figure in the Wolfsburg power game is the works council chief Osterloh. He likes to demonstrate his influence in public. It is not for nothing that he is called the secret ruler in the group. About the Golf VIII, for example, it said in the staff magazine of the works council: "The start has never been better - the board of directors continues to dive". This is close to the maximum sentence and more a declaration of war than a constructive provocation.

It is unclear whether the rumors about a replacement of Diess' actually came from the works council side on Thursday. In any case, one is annoyed from the environment of the CEO: Why do you act so back-room, especially in such a difficult phase for industry and also for the company? The Diess Group complains that it has been teased for weeks instead of working constructively.

The question remains: Can you still work together like this? Diess and Osterloh were an explosive duo from the start. They publicly directed themselves to unfriendliness, only to then demonstratively pull themselves together again. Until the next verbal battle, even a "butt" played a role.

But, the two are probably chained together. In fact, Osterloh cannot be thrown out. And this? In any case, he is "actually not someone who throws up," it says on Thursday afternoon from his surroundings. With the emphasis on "actually".

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