What would VW be without power struggles? A company to be proud of. Because it doesn’t seem to be sufficiently plagued by diesel scandals and the existence-threatening challenges posed by electric and autonomous driving anyway, it is still making life difficult for itself by pitting works council against management board against owners against employees pretty much everything else falls by the wayside, and above all its reputation.
If VW was a woman, we would call her a drama queen, if VW was a man, we would call him Donald Trump.
The latest power struggle between CEO Herbert Diess and Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh and the owners has ended in an unsatisfactory draw after fierce knife-wringing. Diess had issued an ultimatum after a number of humiliations in recent months in which powers had been taken out of his hands and handed over to other managers: either my contract, which runs until 2023, will be extended today, or I’m going out of business. His efforts to reposition the threatened group and make it fit for electric and autonomous driving were opposed from all sides.
It’s like the joke about the two tandem riders going up a hill and when they finally get to the top, all sweaty, the guy in front gasps, “Man, I thought we’d never get there. What I kicked to get up that hill…” Says the man behind, “Not to mention my effort. I am totally exhausted. You have no idea how hard during the bike ride I kept pressing the brakes to keep us from rolling back down the hill…”
But Diess isn’t driving a tandem, he’s driving a milleplet with a thousand riders, 900 of whom brake, 90 of whom steer in a 90 different directions, 5 of whom stab at the tires, and the 5 who really kick are teased for not getting anywhere.
Diess has withdrawn his ultimatum for an early contract extension, but honestly, there are so many new opportunities that could be seized right now – and some not so far from his current employer – that I would venture a prediction: there is a good chance that Diess will take on a new job in 2021 – just not in the VW Group. Bet that?
This article was also posted in German.