Volkswagen on the Path to Oblivion

Volkswagen has been all over the media over the last few months because of their cheating on emission tests and handling this crisis. The Financial Times reports that the Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Müller, is about to reveal a new strategy for one of the largest automotive groups. Some details have been leaked. One of them is their aim that 1 in 10 cars across the Volkswagen group will be electric or hybrid by 2025

Reading that statement one is reminded of Kodak. Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn wrote about Kodak’s digital strategy in a recent article for Forbes. Kodak had a digital strategy but failed because their digital strategy always came after protecting their cash cow of the old chemical film business. The parallels between Kodak’s digital strategy and Volkswagen’s emission free strategy are too obvious to ignore.

Tesla, the Californian based electric car manufacturer, expects to sell 500,000 electric vehicles already by 2018. This is 50% of the target Volkswagen set itself for 2025. How many cars will Tesla sell by 2025? And Tesla is proceeding well on that path even having customers pay deposits for cars which have not even seen the road yet.

Emission free transportation is just as much of a market disruption as is the digitalization of the photo and film industry. Old industry is rarely fit to survive such a disruption. They are even less likely to take the opportunity disruption offers. Old industry thinking is to protect the current cash cows. They develop a 1-in-10 strategy as a fig leaf in front of investors and supervisory boards. One can only hope that the Volkswagen supervisory board has read about Kodak and looks for a team which can lead Volkswagen into the new world of emission free cars – without cheating.

Bernhard is the founder of HELLO STAGE. He is probably the first opera singer pitching an Internet start-up in Silicon Valley. Before founding HELLO STAGE in Fall 2013, Bernhard was the CEO and Artistic Director of the Wiener Konzerthaus. He held several C-Level positions in European technology companies with EUR 100+ million turnover. See www.bernhardkerres.com.

Bernhard leads HELLO STAGE from somewhere between Silicon Valley, New York and Vienna. He writes about his experience in the innovation hot bed on this blog.
Author: Bernhard Kerres
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